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Five-Year Growth Plan

Under the direction of President Pestello, the Office of the Vice President for Research has developed a Five Year Growth Plan to build the university’s research enterprise into one that reflects the transformative work of our faculty.

This plan is divided into three sections, which can be viewed below. In the spirit of transparency and accountability, the Office of the Vice President for Research will update this page periodically to show what has been done thus far in making this vision a reality.

1. Double the research enterprise at Saint Louis University from $50 million to $100 million.

 While funding is not synonymous with research excellence, our broad research interests and ambitions demand that we grow the number of funded awards given to SLU researchers. $100 million is an obtainable goal with modest internal investments and aggressive external fundraising.

The Office of the Vice President for Research has worked alongside each dean in developing a set of annual goals pertaining to funded awards given to SLU researchers, while ensuring that faculty have access to any and all resources needed to make these goals a reality. These will include comprehensive research administration support, grantsmanship training, seed funding, and opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration. The Office of the Vice President for Research also has engaged leading consulting firm Lewis-Burke Associates to connect SLU researchers with relevant funding opportunities and agencies.

2. Develop a set of university-wide strategic research priorities.

Saint Louis University will launch several major research initiatives that will combine internal investments, external funding, new faculty hires, and philanthropic investment. These initiatives will carefully consider our institution’s mission and identity as a Catholic, Jesuit research university, our location in St. Louis and Madrid, and our relationship with regional partners.

The Office of the Vice President of Research has previously convened groups of faculty from across the university that have common scholarly and scientific interests. In the Fall 2017 semester, OVPR will launch a formal process through which faculty will be able to propose research programs as potential university-level research priorities. This will be a multi-year, competitive process with increasing levels of investment for projects that demonstrate broad faculty engagement, strong leadership, and compelling business models. This process will begin with a call for "Big Ideas" in November 2017. 

2018 Big Ideas Planning Grants  

SLU’s Office of the Vice President for Research and the Research Growth Committee are pleased to announce the winners of the first round of Big Ideas planning grants. This multi-year competition offers increasing levels of investment for projects that demonstrate broad faculty engagement, strong leadership, and compelling research plans. The Big Ideas competition builds on SLU’s research growth goal of creating university-wide strategic research priorities.

Almost 40 proposals were submitted by teams of SLU faculty in response to the call for Big Ideas. Three proposals were selected to move forward with $50,000 planning grants to advance their ideas prior to submitting a full research and business plan in 6 to 9 months. Five groups received preliminary planning grants to further grow their ideas. In a few cases, the Research Growth Committee received multiple proposals on related topics and is encouraging the teams to explore the potential for their respective projects to become part of a more inclusive Big Idea. Four proposals were enthusiastically endorsed by the RGC as likely college-level research priorities that may have potential to grow into university-wide initiatives. The RGC also received a variety of excellent projects that do not currently fit the Big Idea criteria and is providing small seed funds to enable the teams to continue to collaborate.

Planning Grants

“Planning for the Development of a SLU Center for Systems Biology”

Leadership Team:

  • Maureen Donlin, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, School of Medicine
  • Jim Edwards, Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Daniel Hoft, Infectious Diseases, School of Medicine
  • Haijun Gong, Mathematics and Statistics, College of Arts and Sciences

“Planning for the WATER Institute at SLU”

Leadership Team:

  • Amanda Cox, Civil Engineering, Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology
  • Craig Adams, Civil Engineering, Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology
  • Liz Hasenmueller, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences


“GeoSLU: Geospatial Research, Training and Innovation”

Leadership Team:

  • Vasit Sagan, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Enbal Shacham, behavioral science and health education, College for Public Health and Social Justice
  • Ness Sandoval, Sociology and Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences

Preliminary Planning Grants

“Planning for the SLU Institute for Drug and Biotherapeutic Innovation (SLU-IDBI)"

Leadership Team:

  • Jack Kennell, Biology, College of Arts and Sciences
  • John Tavis, Molecular Microbiology & Immunology, School of Medicine
  • Marvin Meyers, Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences

“The Center for Healthy Living”

Leadership Team:

  • Tricia Austin, Physical Therapy, Doisy College of Health Sciences
  • Jeremiah Weinstock, Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Gretchen Salsich, Physical Therapy, Doisy College of Health Sciences


“The Health Informatics Group”

Leadership Team:

  • William Manard, chief medical informatics officer, SLUCare; and professor, Family and Community Medicine, School of Medicine
  • Leslie Hinyard, Saint Louis University Center for Outcomes Research, School of Medicine


“The Center for Healing Justice and Equity”

Leadership Team:

  • Ruqaiijah Yearby, School of Law
  • Kira Banks, Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Amber Johnson, Communications, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Keon Gilbert, behavioral science and health education, College for Public Health and Social Justice


“Institute of Materials Science for Medicine: From Design to Application”

Leadership Team:

  • Scott Sell, Biomedical Engineering, Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology
  • Ryan McCulla, Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Scott Martin, Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Steve Buckner, Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences

Endorsed by the Research Growth Committee

“Saint Louis University Center for Food and the Environment”

Leadership Team:

  • Allison Martin, Biology, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Flannery Burke, History, College of Arts and Sciences


“The Center for Translational Chronic Pain Research"

Leadership Team:

  • Daniela Salvemini, Pharmacological and Physiological Science, School of Medicine


“Developing a Saint Louis University Sepsis Center”

Leadership Team:

  • David Ford, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, School of Medicine
  • Blythe Janowiak Mulligan, Biology, College of Arts and Sciences
  • Jane McHowat, Pathology, School of Medicine

“SLU Center for Urban Education Policy and Economic Growth (UEPEG)”

Leadership Team:

  • Takako Nomi, School of Education
  • Gary Ritter, School of Education
  • Heather Bednarek, Chaifetz School of Business
  • Michael Podgursky, Chaifetz School of Business

3. Raise the Profile and Impact of Saint Louis University as a preeminent regional research university.

Though important, research funding does not drive national rankings; scholarly and scientific research reputation does. Research reputation is critical to attracting exceptional students, and dependable research support and processes are necessary to attract and retain exceptional faculty.

The Office of the Vice President for Research is actively making a number of changes to best support our faculty and optimize the impact of their work, including simplifying the process of applying for and managing grants, replacing the electronic grants management system (eRS), and the reorganization of grants support staff around campus. The replacement of eRS is already well underway; the system is scheduled to be replaced with InfoEd during the 2017-2018 school year.  There are also a number of topical workshops and programs now available for faculty seeking to work on their grantsmanship. The Office of the Vice President for Research believes that these changes will enable our faculty to continually perform impactful research for our region and our world.

In addition to building a culture of faculty empowerment on campus, our university continues to strengthen relationships with regional partners. The Office of the Vice President for Research has hosted a number of successful events with regional partner universities, venture capitalists, leaders in research commercialization, and other innovators. Local partnerships – such as those SLU has with the Danforth Plant Science Center, the Missouri Botanical Garden, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Washington University, Cortex, and many more – continue to flourish, and it is energizing to see our regional community’s interest in SLU’s success.