_Research that Responds to the Moment

_about the cover

This magnified view of the layered fibers within a surgical mask was created by Oliver Meckes using SEM.

As a research university with R1 status in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education Research, one of our greatest concerns when the coronavirus pandemic hit was how quickly Drexel faculty and graduate students could return to their labs. As it turns out, there was no need for concern. In a matter of weeks, Drexel’s research enterprise was the first in the University to ramp up activity, with health and safety occupancy limits in place to safeguard our community. Research activity swung into high gear — including dozens of scientific inquiries into the causes, cures and possible solutions to this great challenge to the global community, as well as the need to bring about racial justice.

The Center for Functional Fabrics, featured in this issue of EXEL, played a major role by developing and producing new types of masks and respirators. The College of Medicine was a beehive of research activity, too. Meanwhile, Drexel’s Office of Research & Innovation provided significant funding for faculty research projects focused on racial equity.

But our approach to research looks well beyond the current public health challenges. As you’ll read in this issue’s feature on the Drexel Solutions Institute, we are strengthening our research capacity with a new, 10-year strategic plan that builds on the power of partnerships. This ranges from local solutions-based learning and civic engagement with communities and organizations in Philadelphia, to global research collaborations, to deep and productive relationships with a broad array of cross-sector employer-partners.

Finally, we’re building out innovation districts on both ends of the Drexel campus: at Schuylkill Yards, where Spark Therapeutics is pioneering genetic breakthroughs in the transformed Bulletin Building, and at uCity Square, where a new academic tower will be home to Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions, and for the educational programs in the College of Medicine.

With new research awards up by nearly 30 percent over last year, the future of Drexel’s research enterprise looks to remain strong and impactful, and ever focused on improving people’s lives.

John A. Fry / President