UNC Research Funding Hits a Record $716 Million

Carolina’s research grants and contracts totaled $716 million in fiscal 2009, the largest amount ever.

The tally is up 5.6 percent on the $678 million received last year and more than double the amount from a decade ago. The contracts and grants come primarily from the federal government — especially the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. The NIH traditionally is UNC’s largest source of research funding.

Chancellor Holden Thorp ’86 said UNC’s continuing success in attracting outside contract and grant awards for research was a bright spot on the revenue side of the institution’s budget.

“Very few universities are showing these kinds of results for important research that will help improve people’s lives and advance knowledge,” Thorp said. “This success speaks directly to the quality of the research our faculty are conducting. In the current economic downturn, it’s great for North Carolina that our research enterprise is bringing hundreds of millions of dollars into the state.”

Another positive trend is the strong performance by the Carolina faculty in attracting new federal research funding as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, said Tony Waldrop ’74, vice chancellor for research and economic development. Those results — nearly $20 million through the end of July — make up a small portion of the fiscal 2009 overall numbers.

The University expects ongoing success in seeking ARRA funding over the next two years.

“The ARRA awards support new and ongoing research at Carolina that will help jumpstart the state and national economies by creating jobs in addition to expanding our knowledge about diseases, human health and the environment,” Waldrop said. “Our faculty, many of whom are leaders in their disciplines, are already using these funds in their work on prostate cancer, synthetic blood substitutes, schizophrenia, memory, bone biology and solar energy.”

Results from top-performing main University units in fiscal 2009 include:

The School of Medicine attracted the largest proportion of such funding, at $349.6 million, or 48.8 percent of UNC’s total.

Among individual departments and UNC-based centers and institutes, the Carolina Population Center had the highest research awards total, at $54.2 million.

In many cases, researchers from multiple UNC schools, departments and units collaborate on research grants, contracts and studies. That approach reflects the University’s emphasis on interdisciplinary teaching and scholarship between and among the health, natural and social sciences, as well as the liberal arts and the humanities.

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