Overall Research Funding Up $11 Million at UNC

Faculty at UNC secured $777.8 million in overall research funding in fiscal 2013. That total is up nearly $11 million — or 1.4 percent — from $767.1 million the previous year.

That funding total comes in contracts and grants awarded by federal and state agencies, foundations, nonprofit organizations, corporations and associations. Of it, $548.43 million came from federal sources, up slightly from $545.99 million last year, when Carolina moved into the top 10 nationally in that measurement; it is not yet known how UNC ranks in federal research funding this year.

“With a difficult economy and continued funding cuts in many of the federal agencies, a number of universities are losing ground in their research funding,” Chancellor Carol Folt said. “Carolina is bucking the national trends, and our state and region are benefiting as a result.”

One factor in this year’s success, Folt said, was diversifying funding sources and bringing in more dollars from foundations and private industry and business.

The National Institutes of Health remained the University’s largest funding source, providing $366.9 million, or 66.9 percent of the federal research dollars coming to UNC.

The University’s other top funders were the U.S. Agency for International Development, $49.7 million (9.1 percent); National Science Foundation, $39.3 million (7.2 percent); and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, $38.1 million (7 percent).

The University’s multidisciplinary research centers and institutes continue to play a growing role in bringing research funding to North Carolina, accounting for roughly $160 million of total awards in fiscal 2013. These centers and institutes attract close to $7.70 in external funds for each $1 of state funds invested.

Examples of research programs funded by fiscal 2013 federal grants include:

  • A School of Medicine clinical trial made it possible for a multidisciplinary medical team to place an auditory brain stem implant in a deaf 3-year-old Charlotte boy, allowing him to hear his father’s voice for the first time.
  • Energy and Environment at Carolina, part of the Institute for the Environment, represents a campuswide partnership producing interdisciplinary research, education and outreach in all aspects of energy use, environmental quality and economic development.
  • The Carolina Population Center’s National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health follows a nationally representative sample of U.S. adolescents who were in grades seven through 12 in 1994-95. The goal is to understand how adolescent and early adulthood experiences, behaviors and social contexts influence well-being in young adulthood.
  • A grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has served as a catalyst to create the Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative, a $5 million effort exploring the application of advanced digital technologies to humanities research, teaching and knowledge creation.
  • A recent study led by nutrition faculty at the Gillings School of Global Public Health found that foods rich in specific amino and fatty acids helped youngsters with Type 1 diabetes keep producing some of their own insulin for up to two years after diagnosis. The study involved more than 1,300 participants in a multicenter research program that is the largest study of childhood diabetes in the U.S. The diet additions did not reduce the need for supplemental insulin but may help reduce future disease complications.
  • Carolina researchers are helping North Carolina better prepare for hurricanes and tropical storms through advanced computing technology and collaboration with local and state emergency managers. The Advanced Circulation Model Surge Guidance System, developed through UNC’s Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City and the Department of Homeland Security-funded Coastal Hazards Center, provides coastal communities with detailed data about storm surge, wave heights and the potential for flooding. Researchers at UNC’s Renaissance Computing Institute use supercomputing capabilities to create high-resolution models; the results are shared with emergency managers in coastal communities to help local leaders make informed decisions related to road closings, evacuations, and search and rescue.

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