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National Strategic Research Institute awarded $92M STRATCOM contract

Melissa Lee, NU Central Administration

The University of Nebraska’s National Strategic Research Institute has been awarded a new five-year, $92 million contract through U.S. Strategic Command. The grant allows the institute to continue research into national security and defense.

This is the third contract awarded to NSRI since the NU systemwide institute was established in 2012 to perform exclusive research to meet the needs of Strategic Command and the U.S. Department of Defense. In 2018, the institute’s initial $84 million contract was renewed with a $92 million contract — a ceiling that faculty from across the campuses and NSRI scientists reached in just 18 months, paving the way for a subsequent renewal.

In total, the institute has received $298 million in research contract awards over the past eight years, with university faculty and researchers delivering on 110 contracts for national defense partners across the country.

“Our university is proud to be leading critical research that contributes to our national defense through NSRI,” said University of Nebraska–Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green. “This award will allow our researchers to move forward, building capacity and furthering productive collaborations with University of Nebraska colleagues and partners in the Department of Defense.

“Our continued momentum and NSRI’s unique focus are delivering results that benefit Nebraskans and all Americans.”

Ted Carter, president of the NU system and a retired vice admiral in the U.S. Navy who also served as superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, said working to support men and women in uniform is a point of pride for the entire university system.

“This contract award is a vote of confidence in our university, and it signals the continued strength of our partnership with USSTRATCOM and the Department of Defense,” Carter said. “Especially during these challenging times, I’m so inspired by our faculty, staff, students and NSRI colleagues who have consistently stepped up to keep our warfighters and our country safe.”

The University of Nebraska remains one of only 14 university-affiliated research centers in the country to have an exclusive research partnership with the Department of Defense and is the only one sponsored by a unified combatant command. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Penn State, Georgia Tech and Johns Hopkins University are among other elite institutions to have a UARC designation.

“Given the evolved mission of our sponsor, U.S. Strategic Command, we have made significant investments in nuclear weapons enterprise support and refined our path forward to ensure consistent deliverables to the command while remaining resolute in delivering across the threat spectrum,” said Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Robert Hinson, NSRI founding executive director.

“As we’ve seen throughout the last several months with COVID-19, the threats never cease and they are never one-dimensional. It is exactly these times of compounding challenges that NSRI is designed to respond to — the scope of our expertise is broad because the threat spectrum is broad. Respond we have, and we will continue to do so in support of STRATCOM and the DoD.”

Recent institute highlights that feature collaborations with Husker researchers include:

Development of drugs to protect military service members from the effects of radiation exposure. Under the partnership, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and University of Nebraska Medical Center faculty, along with federal and pharmaceutical industry partners, are working on a drug discovery and development pipeline to help advance critically needed drugs. Recent efforts have focused on the development of therapeutic antibodies that could be used to treat COVID-19 patients.

Oxygenated microbubbles for a life-saving solution to traumatic lung injury. Traumatic lung injury often leads to death, particularly on the battlefield, since the body relies on the lungs to provide oxygen. UNMC, UNL and University of Colorado-Boulder researchers developed and validated a patented, life-saving solution using oxygenated microbubbles to bypass damaged lung tissue and release oxygen into the abdomen. The microbubbles technology could increase the survival of injured warfighters in low-resource environments and victims of mass casualty events.

The Nebraska College of Law teamed up with Strategic Command for a warfare law conference at Offutt Air Force Base. The conference brought together active military and civilian attendees to discuss “Law and Global Warfighting: The Challenges in 21st-Century Practice.”

The institute has specifically focused on bolstering its nuclear expertise, bringing on nuclear strategist Christopher Yeaw. His extensive experience and network has led the institute to participate in time-sensitive research on future arms control options at the highest levels of government.

The institute has also executed on significant projects specifically for U.S. Strategic Command, including cybersecurity architecture updates and enhanced consequence assessment. The institute funded multiple NU students to support Strategic Command through collaborative research organizations and governance models that could support their nuclear enterprise research requirements.

NU’s National Strategic Research Institute includes more than 350 scientists delivering innovative national security research, technology, product and strategy development, training and exercises, and subject matter expertise to the Department of Defense and other federal agencies.