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University of Nebraska defense research institute earns new five-year, $92 million contract

University of Nebraska defense research institute earns new five-year, $92 million contract
Courtesy/UNMC.

The University of Nebraska and United States Strategic Command announced today that NU’s National Strategic Research Institute has been renewed with a five-year, $92 million contract from the U.S. Air Force.

The renewal paves the way for a second phase of growth and momentum following the $84 million initial contract earned upon NSRI’s inception in 2012. That award positioned the University and its partners as national leaders in research and development to combat weapons of mass destruction and keep the United States and its allies safe. With the new, larger contract, NU faculty from across the four campuses will have expanded opportunities to conduct exclusive research that meets the needs of USSTRATCOM and the Department of Defense.

In thanking USSTRATCOM for its partnership, President Hank Bounds noted that the University of Nebraska is in elite company as one of only 13 U.S. institutions to host a University-Affiliated Research Center. Others conducting research directly for the Department of Defense include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Johns Hopkins University.

“It is clear that the outstanding work our faculty and staff have done through the National Strategic Research Institute to protect our warfighters is just the beginning of what we’re capable of,” Bounds said. “This contract renewal is a strong signal from the Department of Defense that the University of Nebraska’s efforts are relevant, timely and worthy of continued investment. I couldn’t be more proud of the team at NSRI and all the faculty who have been engaged in this venture for their success and commitment to keeping our country safe.”

Bounds praised the work and vision of Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Robert Hinson, founding executive director of the National Strategic Research Institute. Under Hinson’s leadership, NSRI has exceeded federal growth metrics, added staff to deepen partnerships with USSTRATCOM and federal funding agencies, and opened a new Savage, Md.-based office that will allow faculty and partners to work side-by-side on exclusive defense projects.

“We launched the National Strategic Research Institute with an ambitious goal: Lead the way in providing research to meet – and ultimately anticipate – the needs of our DoD and agency partners who are on the front lines in defending the United States against those who would do us harm,” Hinson said. “We have achieved remarkable success. Yet our work in supporting our men and women in uniform is never done. Threats to our national security are increasingly grave and complex. I’m so pleased that we will be able to continue this vital and life-saving work.”

Gen. John Hyten, USSTRATCOM commander, applauded NSRI for its progress on ground-breaking projects supporting the USSTRATCOM and DoD missions.

“We rely on organizations like NSRI to assist the government in its quest to ‘go fast.’ Looking at deterrence through the new lens provided by these partnerships helps us address evolving threats in a multi-polar security environment,” Hyten said. “We’re excited for the continued partnership with the University of Nebraska, as it has paid dividends for USSTRATCOM and the Department of Defense.”

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green said: “We are proud to perform critical research in many disciplines that contributes to national defense as part of NSRI. As one of America’s fastest-growing research universities, we look forward to building on our capacity to collaborate with University of Nebraska colleagues and Department of Defense partners. Our continued momentum and NSRI’s unique focus are delivering results on behalf of Nebraskans and all Americans.”

University of Nebraska Medical Center and University of Nebraska at Omaha Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D., said: “We at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and at the University of Nebraska at Omaha are proud to have earned the trust of our Department of Defense to provide and develop critical expertise in areas such as biopreparedness, cybersecurity, biosecurity and front-line emergency trauma care, to name just a few.

“UNMC and UNO look forward to continuing these vital research collaborations, as this continued investment by the Department of Defense underscores the effectiveness and value of our ongoing work.  From developing lifesaving technologies to training some of the nation’s top civilian security specialists, we are proud to play an important role in the defense of our country and deterrence of future threats. The impact of our research is far-reaching. It will save the lives of our service members and help to protect our nation.”

Since its founding, the National Strategic Research Institute has engaged more than 241 NU faculty, researchers and students from a range of disciplines on 84 research projects focused on key areas of strength: nuclear detection and forensics, detection of chemical and biological weapons, passive defense against weapons of mass destruction, consequence management, and other mission-related research.

Those projects include:

  • The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has a long-standing partnership with DoD to improve a vaccine for the poison ricin.

  • University of Nebraska Medical Center scientists have continued research to develop next-generation vaccines for anthrax and infectious diseases.

  • NSRI and UNMC are working to develop a life-saving solution to traumatic lung injury. Oxygenated microbubbles are engineered to release oxygen into the abdomen, providing the patient with the oxygen they need to survive while bypassing damaged lung tissues. This kind of technology would allow for the treatment of multiple warfighters with minimal equipment and could be scaled in the event of a mass casualty event.

  • NSRI, supported by UNL researchers, is conducting research to improve the metals used on military vehicles so they perform better in harsh environments and extreme conditions.

  • University of Nebraska at Omaha-led research aims to better understand the psychology of terrorist groups like ISIS.

  • UNL physicists are working to develop laser technology that could detect hidden or camouflaged explosives and other materials at a safe distance from the source.

  • UNMC has collaborated with NSRI to manage and operate an immunomics unit of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases that will aid the DoD and other federal agencies in monitoring infectious disease threats and developing therapeutics.

  • Through a collaboration with USSTRATCOM, NSRI and UNO host the Strategic Leadership Fellows Program, an annual training program aimed at developing civilian leaders at USSTRATCOM. The program admits 10 Fellows annually following a competitive application process and leads participants through a rigorous 13-week curriculum covering leadership, decision-making, team-building, project management and interaction with state and federal political leaders.

  • UNL engineers continue to work with the DoD to improve the safety and security of military entry points to better protect military and civilian personnel from terrorist threats.

  • Finally, the legal landscape is not well-defined in certain military operations, especially space and cyber operations. In collaboration with the NU College of Law, NSRI partners with USSTRATCOM’s legal office to host an operational law conference where attendees can analyze unique legal and national policy limitations on military operations in space, cyber and nuclear warfare.
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