Temple University Scales Top Tier with New National Research Classification
By attracting renowned scientists and their teams, making life-changing discoveries, and transforming lab results into new medicines and technologies, Temple has amped up university-wide research exponentially. This success was recently recognized by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, boosting Temple’s profile to the highest research category. Carnegie classifies national research universities based on the productivity and scale of the research enterprise. The reclassification places the local university among the top four percent of all four-year institutions in the nation and in the company of other giants like Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and Harvard University.
Advancing Energy Innovation
One of the most noteworthy scientists to join Temple’s ranks is prominent physicist John Perdew. In fact, his work counts among the top most-cited research of all time. Perdew heads the College of Science and Technology’s Energy Frontier Research Center, one of 32 centers funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to focus on the design of new layered materials that will have potential applications for clean-energy technologies such as solar cells, batteries, and catalysts for water-splitting.
The rapid rise in world demand for energy is among the most critical challenges facing the United States in the 21st century. To more quickly meet these challenges, the Energy Frontier Research Centers will lay the scientific groundwork to address future needs in energy production, storage and use.
“The interesting thing about the single layers of materials is you can very readily change them and control the properties of that material,” said Perdew. “For instance, you could tune it to absorb a particular frequency or frequencies of light for conversion into electricity. These are things that are of interest to the Department of Energy.”
Similarly crucial is Temple’s quest to make a range of life-changing discoveries, running the gamut from how we understand concussions to how we tackle the obesity epidemic. Perhaps most prominent, however, are the recent strides toward a cure for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Kamel Khalili, chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Temple’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine, led a study that successfully eliminated HIV from cultured human cells for the first time.
The hope is that this will inform future research with the ultimate goal of eradicating HIV. And, in fact, just weeks ago, a study by Khalili in Scientific Reports shows that this technique can also suppress viral replication and dramatically reduce viral load, or the amount of HIV in patient cells—a landmark accomplishment, to be sure.
Moving from lab to life
“Today, research is woven into the fabric of Temple in a way that’s unprecedented in our history,” said Michele Masucci, Temple’s vice president for research administration. “We’re now emphasizing the importance of the whole process of conducting research—including grant-seeking as well as commercialization—and bringing discoveries from the lab to the marketplace.”
This year Temple faculty generated 115 inventions, nearly doubling the prior year’s 60. And in the past five years, the university launched 15 startups—more than the total launched in the previous two decades.
One example of Temple’s momentum in this area is the Newtown-based biopharmaceutical company Onconova, which has developed several drugs in conjunction with Temple and its Fels Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Biology.
Other new companies developing Temple’s research discoveries are focusing on new therapies for heart failure, mobile medical applications for autism and a solution for remotely managing COPD. And with the university’s new Carnegie reclassification, we’d wager these cutting-edge projects and studies are just the beginning.
Masucci explained, “We’re leading, not following—thanks to a new generation of scholars who are elevating Temple to new heights.”
Temple President Neil D. Theobald added: “Pioneering research is performed at Temple every day. We’re committed to creating new knowledge so the people of Philadelphia and the commonwealth of Pennsylvania can lead better lives.”
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