Proposals Requested for Gulf Research Initiative

“We are pleased that the Research Board has reached this important milestone in the development of the GRI,” says spokesperson from BP’s Gulf Coast Restoration Organization.

BP and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance announced today that the independent Research Board of the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GRI) is requesting proposals for studies into the effects of the Deepwater Horizon incident and the potential associated impact on the environment and public health.

The $500 million GRI is funded by BP and administered by the Gulf of Mexico Alliance.

“We are pleased that the Research Board has reached this important milestone in the development of the GRI,” said David Rainey, vice president of science, technology, environment and regulatory affairs, for BP’s Gulf Coast Restoration Organization. “We are deeply grateful to the Research Board for their efforts to develop a rigorous, fair, and transparent scientific process.”

The April 25 announcement details the provisions for administering the remaining years of the 10-year program. The independent Research Board of the GRI has created a selection process that includes an open Request for Proposals, peer review of the submissions, selection of the Research Consortia to study the five research themes, and award of funds during the summer of 2011.

“I have been very impressed by the commitment of every member of the Research Board to create the sustainable processes that now underpin a program of the highest possible scientific quality,” said Rita Colwell, the chair of the Research Board. “I could not have asked for a better team to take on this important challenge.”

The Request for Proposals is available on the GRI Research Board Website http://griresearchboard.org/rfp/RFP-I.html

Upon completion of the 10-year GRI, BP aims to have made significant investments in scientific research to understand the impact of the incident and improve its understanding of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystems.

Investments include:

• $500 million to fund the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative over 10-years. The first $40 million in fast-track grants were given in June 2010 for the first year of the program to Louisiana State University ($5 million), the Northern Gulf Institute ($10 million), the Florida Institute of Oceanography ($10 million), the Alabama Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium ($5 million) and the National Institutes of Health ($10 million). BP is reviewing the status of year one block grants to ensure there are no gaps in gathering time critical data.

• More than $100 million has been spent to date on water, sediment soil, air and other sampling and analysis under the direction of the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command. (The results of these activities are summarized in the two reports of the Operational Scientific Advisory Team, available at www.restorethegulf.gov.

• More than $150 million has been spent or committed to date for sampling and study conducted by or with the Natural Resource Damage Trustees to investigate the impact of the incident on natural resources and human use of those resources.

The research themes for the GRI are:

• The physical distribution and ultimate fate of contaminants associated with the Deepwater Horizon incident.

• The chemical evolution and biological degradation of the contaminants.

• The environmental effects of the contaminants on Gulf of Mexico ecosystems, and the science of ecosystem recovery.

• Technology developments for improved detection, characterization, mitigation, and remediation of offshore oil spills.

• Integration of the previous four themes in the context of human health.

“We have created a structure which facilitates the unique, scientific knowledge of Gulf State academic institutions to study and to ultimately contribute to the viability of the Gulf Coast,” said Dr. Bill Walker, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and current co-chair of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance Management Team.

The GRI Research Board members are:

Debra Benoit, MEd  Nicholls State University

Peter Brewer, PhD  Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

Rita Colwell, PhD  University of Maryland College Park

Richard Dodge, PhD  Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center

John Farrington, PhD  University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth

Kenneth Halanych, PhD  Auburn University

David Halpern, PhD  California Institute of Technology

William Hogarth, PhD  University of South Florida

Jörg Imbeger, PhD  University of Western Australia

Margaret Leinen, PhD  Florida Atlantic University-Harbor Branch

Raymond Orbach, PhD  University of Texas at Austin

Jürgen Rullkötter, PhD  Inst. for Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment

David Shaw, PhD Mississippi State University

John Shepherd, PhD  University of Southampton

Robert Shipp, PhD  University of South Alabama

Burton Singer, PhD  University of Florida

Ciro Sumaya, MD, MPHTM  Texas A&M Health Science Center

Denis Wiesenburg, PhD  University of Southern Mississippi

Charles Wilson, PhD  Louisiana State University

Dana Yoerger, PhD  Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

All GRI-funded research is independent of BP, and the results will be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals with no requirement for BP approval.

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