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  February 3, 2003

External Research Funding Grows
Strategies To Promote Further Increase Proposed
By Karen A. Grava

External research funding at the University has gone up 50 percent in five years, with University researchers winning about one-quarter of the dollars they are requesting from federal, state, and corporate sources, Janet L. Greger, vice provost for research and graduate education, said in a recent presentation to the Board of Trustees.

The University, including both the Health Center and the Storrs-based programs, ranks 65th in the nation and 46th among public universities in terms of research and development expenditures, as measured by the National Science Foundation, she said. Federal funding increased from $35 million to more than $50 million over the last five years, with state funding remaining fairly steady at about $15 million.

Eight Storrs-based faculty were recognized by the trustees for bringing in more than $1 million last year. They are Ann Ferris, nutritional sciences; Jeffrey Fisher, psychology; Carol Lammi-Keefe, nutritional sciences; Alexandros Makriyannis, pharmacy; John Mathieu, management; Joseph Renzulli, education; John Silander, ecology and evolutionary biology; and Peter Turchin, ecology and evolutionary biology.

Overall, the University receives more than $147.5 million in research support, including $87 million for the Storrs-based programs in 2002-03. "We are doing well, but we will try to be even more aggressive in the future," Greger said. "Our average award is $114,000 per contract or grant for the Storrs-based programs.

Greger said she will work to improve and increase research dollars by:

  • convening cross-department research interest groups, and increasing collaboration between the Storrs based programs and the Health Center;

  • improving service to researchers, including upgrading information technology to assist researchers to develop proposals and administer grants;

  • fostering more strategic planning and benchmarking, so the University can assess how it compares with others, especially in regard to graduate education; and

  • improving compliance with grant requirements.

Twenty-three percent of UConn's federal funding comes from the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes NIH; 18 percent comes from NSF; and another 18 percent comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture; while 10 percent comes from the Department of Education, 9 percent from Defense, 10 percent from Commerce (including the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administratio n), 4 percent from Energy, and 3 percent from Environmental Protection. UConn competes well for funds from NSF, USDA, Education, and EPA, and has the most potential for growth through NIH.

Another measure of research success, Greger said, is commercialization of research. Last year, there were 13 invention disclosures, including three from the Health Center, 10 new applications for patents, and 16 licenses producing income. Overall, commercializati on brought in nearly $330,000 in gross income.

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