Program to Attract, Retain Top Faculty Reaches $345 Million Investment Return

Regents Authorize $35 Million More for STARs Initiative

AUSTIN – A 6-year-old program aimed at attracting and retaining top faculty from around the world to University of Texas System institutions has generated a net return of more than $345 million in research grants and clinical trial support.

The initiative, known as the Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention program –  or STARs – was hailed as one of the UT System’s most successful programs during a presentation to the Board of Regents on Thursday (Aug. 12).

“The STARs program adds tremendous value to the UT System because it attracts and retains outstanding investigators who have achieved national or international prominence; affords our institutions an extraordinary level of excellence of benefit to our faculty and students; and provides a substantial return on investment in the form of research grants and support for clinical trials,” said UT System Regents’ Chairman Colleen McHugh.

Also Thursday, Regents authorized $35 million more for the STARs program, which will be available to institutions beginning in Fiscal Year 2011. The funds will be used to attract and retain researchers to UT System academic and health institutions.

The UT System has invested a total of $85 million into the program, which in turn has helped attract more than $345 million ($255 million to academic institutions and $90 million to health institutions) in research grants and clinical trial support.

In UT System academic institutions alone from 2005 to 2007, STARs-related research activity led to 177 patents either issued or pending; more than 1,500 published scientific articles; and 51 national awards.

Among some of the noted STARs recruits are Dr. Russell Hulse of UT Dallas, a co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1993 for the discovery of the first binary pulsar;  Dr. Richard Aldrich of UT Austin, a recognized leader in neurobiology who was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2008; Dr. C. Thomas Caskey of the UT Health Science Center at Houston, a physician and biochemist who has discovered numerous genetic disease genes; and Dr. Joseph Takahashi of UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, a neuroscientist whose research has brought greater understanding to the molecular and genetic basis of circadian rhythms in mammals.

Launched in 2004, the STARs program uses bond proceeds from the Permanent University Fund to purchase state-of-the-art equipment or renovate laboratory facilities to help attract or retain researchers in health, science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

STARs award recipients are selected through a competitive process administered by the UT System. Nominees are identified and recommended by university faculty groups before a UT System peer review committee vets the prospective recipients for selection in the program.

About The University of Texas System

The University of Texas System is one of the nation’s largest higher education systems, with nine academic campuses and six health institutions. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $11.9 billion (FY 2010) including $2.5 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. Preliminary student enrollment exceeded 202,000 in the 2009 academic year. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state's undergraduate degrees and educates nearly three-fourths of the state's health care professionals annually. With more than 84,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.

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