CU attracts record-breaking amount of funding for sponsored research

Over $1.2 billion awarded from federal, state, international, foundation entities
By Staff

Setting a new systemwide record, faculty at the University of Colorado attracted more than $1.2 billion in sponsored research funding and gifts during the 2018-19 fiscal year.

This marks the third consecutive year the four-campus university system has exceeded $1 billion in annual sponsored research funding and reflects a 15.5% increase over the previous year. Each CU campus individually saw growth in research funding over last year as well.

Most sponsored research funding is awarded by federal agencies. In 2018-19, CU received $771 million in federal awards and $388.4 million in non-federal awards.

“CU’s record-setting research funding demonstrates the high quality of our faculty, whose work in discovery and innovation improves lives, saves lives and addresses some of the most pressing issues facing society,” said CU President Mark Kennedy. “Their work not only enhances the educational experience for our students, but also makes our world a better place.”

Following are the year’s totals in sponsored research funding at CU campuses, along with examples of the leading-edge endeavors that are elevating life across Colorado and beyond:

University of Colorado Boulder: $630.9 million. The U.S. Geological Survey selected CU Boulder to host the North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center (NCCASC) for the next five years. NCCASC Director Jennifer Balch, an assistant professor of Geography and director of CIRES’ Earth Lab, said the new, $4.5-million award recognizes the huge potential for synergy with existing campus programs and expertise. The center is one of eight regional climate centers created to help meet the changing needs of land and resource managers across the country; the North Central center serves Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas and Nebraska.

University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus: $553.5 million. Kathleen Barnes, director of the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine, received continued funding in FY2019 totaling over $2.5 million related to two National Institutes of Health R01 five-year awards (total over five years is $13.3 million), both focused on identifying genetic determinants associated with asthma in people of African ancestry, who suffer disproportionately compared to white patients with asthma. One of these awards was a competitive renewal from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, supporting the Consortium on Asthma among African-Ancestry Populations in the Americas (CAAPA), which is the largest genetics study of its kind focused exclusively on more than 18,000 individuals representing the African Diaspora, from North, Central, South America, the Caribbean and continental Africa.

University of Colorado Denver: $23.4 million. The National Science Foundation awarded researchers a $440,000 grant to study the recovery of manufactured homes after natural disasters. Esther Sullivan, assistant professor of sociology, and Andrew Rumbach and Carrie Makarewicz, assistant professors of urban and regional planning, are examining the impact of Hurricane Harvey on mobile home parks in greater Houston, a nine-county region with a population of more than 7 million. This is the first longitudinal study to focus on the recovery of manufactured homes, which make up one in every five homes bought in the U.S.

University of Colorado Colorado Springs: $8 million. A three-year, $432,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health is supporting research to develop, improve and utilize super-resolution microscopy with a focus on imaging live cells at the UCCS BioFrontiers Center. Undergraduate and graduate students are working with Guy Hagen, senior research associate, and Kathrin Spendier, assistant professor of physics, to use the improved imaging methods to study the molecular basis of allergic responses, which affect more than 50 million Americans each year.

Sponsored research funding from federal, state, international and foundation entities targets specific projects to advance research in laboratories and in the field. Research funding also helps pay for research-related capital improvements, scientific equipment, travel and salaries for research and support staff and student assistantships. CU cannot divert this funding to non-research-related expenses.

A great deal of sponsored research funding is directed to departments and researchers with unique expertise, such as biotechnology and aerospace, which stimulates industry.