In August of 2010, West Virginia ‘s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) received a five-year, $20 million Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII) grant from the National Science Foundation.

This grant, NSF-1003907, is the strategic framework to position West Virginia to achieve measurable growth in bionanotechnology.

The vision of the RII is to establish a nationally recognized and sustainable Center in Bionanotechnology that integrates research and education and advances knowledge through innovative collaborations while energizing the state’s economy.

The specific goal is to provide necessary infrastructure focused on bionanotechnology for enhanced public security and environmental safety. The interdisciplinary research effort is led by West Virginia University, Marshall University, and West Virginia State University. Researchers at these institutions will bring together bionanotechnology and molecular sciences to create hand-held devices — essentially laboratories on a chip — to remotely identify potential environmental threats, pollutants and even diseases. Innovations in this area have the potential to create new marketable technologies and devices — and the jobs to manufacture them.

Also engaged in research and workforce development activities for this RII are the state’s predominantly undergraduate institutions (PUI) and community and technical colleges (CTC).