The grant, which will be spread out over five years, is the largest in the school's history.
The Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (EDC) has also contributed $4 million for the grant.
Governor Donald Carcieri says grant will also help the state of Rhode Island grow economically.
"This funding is a landmark grant for the University and for the State of Rhode Island that will help propel us into national prominence in marine life science research and development," Carcieri said. "The funding will strengthen the vital link between education and workforce development in our growing innovation economy."
Officials at the University say they will work with several local colleges including Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design to create a research network. The money from the grant will also be used to buy new lab equipment as well as support students in both graduate and undergraduate programs.
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