ARRA boost helps CU scientists secure $847 million in research funding

Stimulus money for 2009-10 fiscal year helps advance cutting-edge research
By Staff

University of Colorado faculty researchers on four campuses secured more than $847 million in sponsored research funding in fiscal year 2009-10 to advance scientific work in laboratories and in the field, allowing them to remain highly competitive among peers despite the economic downturn.

According to preliminary numbers, the university's sponsored research funding for 2009-10 tops the record $711 million CU researchers drew in fiscal year 2008-09. However, one-time federal stimulus dollars allocated through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or ARRA, boosted the total received in the 2009-10 fiscal year.

To date, CU researchers have won nearly $162 million in stimulus grants to support work in virtually every field – from cancer research to renewable energy. Federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and NASA provided a much-needed infusion of ARRA-funded research grants, but this money will disappear when the stimulus act sunsets at the end of fiscal year 2010-11. Because many research projects in this reporting period received ARRA money intertwined with traditional funding sources, it is difficult to break out stimulus funding by fiscal year.

Sponsored research funding is targeted for specific scientific projects, and universities cannot divert this money to fund non-related expenses such as utilities, administrative salaries, student financial aid and grounds maintenance. Research money does help pay for research-related capital improvements, scientific equipment, travel and salaries for research and support staff. Local, state and federal agencies provide these critically needed funds, which support researchers and serve as a barometer of academic and research prestige.

"Our faculty attracts research funding that advances important scientific work and has a significant multiplier effect on the Colorado economy through new jobs and business startups," said CU President Bruce D. Benson. "This type of support also shows how CU is expanding human knowledge, propelling innovation and providing health-care solutions right here in Colorado."

Here is how CU campuses fared with sponsored research funding in fiscal year 2009-10 (totals include ARRA funding):

  • CU-Boulder researchers received more than $454 million in sponsored research funding. ARRA grants received by the campus included a $15 million award to help complete the construction of the Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building, and a $26 million NASA award for a satellite project that will monitor global climate change.
  • UC Denver and Anschutz Medical Campus researchers received almost $385 million in combined sponsored research funding. Significant ARRA grants included a $2.6 million NIH award to the College of Nursing to expand the state's health care information technology work force, and a $13,000 NIH award to fund dental students working with American Indians in Colorado.
  • UCCS researchers received more than $8 million in sponsored research funding. Important ARRA-funded projects included the $415,000 NSF grant won by an engineering professor to develop high-performance batteries for hybrid vehicles, and a $314,000 grant won by a psychology professor to support geriatrics research.

Of the more than $847 million in sponsored research funding received in fiscal year 2009-10, more than $648 million came from federal sources and more than $199 million came from nonfederal sources.

Included with the ARRA funding CU researchers received were 17 NIH "challenge grants" to advance high-priority investigative research in clinical care, stem cells, genomics, health-care disparities and regenerative medicine. CU researchers are involved in several large biomedical initiatives that stand to have a large economic impact on Colorado, including the Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building at CU-Boulder, a stepped-up stem cell research effort at Anschutz Medical Campus, and partnerships between UCCS and other universities.

Other granting agencies included the U.S. Department of Commerce; Veterans Affairs; the U.S. Department of Defense; the U.S. Energy Department; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and the U.S. Department of Education.

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