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UC Davis awarded record $750 million for research in 2011-12

October 31, 2012

Oliver Fiehn standing in his metabolomics lab

Oliver Fiehn, director of the West Coast Metabolomics Center, received $9.3 million as a startup grant from the National Institutes of Health. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis photo)

Research funding at the University of California, Davis, totaled nearly $750 million during the fiscal year that ended June 30, a record high for the university and an increase of about $65 million from the previous year’s total.

"This record funding for our campus underscores the strength and breadth of research at UC Davis," said Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi. "But university research is about more than just new ideas. It translates into jobs, economic health and the long-term competitiveness of our state and nation."

The new total places the campus fourth in the University of California system in external research funding, up from fifth the year before. UC Davis has had the fastest growth of any of the 10 UC campuses in research funding since 1995.

"These figures are incredibly uplifting," said Harris Lewin, vice chancellor for research at UC Davis. "The UC Davis faculty, rightly, have much to be proud of, and the Office of Research is privileged to be part of that success story."

Examples of grants awarded to UC Davis faculty in the past year include:

  • A $25 million, five-year program to improve food security in the developing world, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development
  • $34 million from the National Institutes of Health to a consortium including UC Davis for development of new mouse models of diseases such as cancer, obesity and diabetes, a key step toward finding better ways to prevent and treat these diseases
  • $12 million from a joint program of the National Science Foundation and the Japan Science and Technology Agency to further research into generating biofuels from algae
  • $5.6 million from the John Templeton Foundation to study the psychology of gratitude
  • $4.8 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fight child obesity in the Central Valley, and $4 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to establish a Center for Poverty Research
  • $580,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to study engagement of students and other audiences with classical music

The record total brings UC Davis three-quarters of the way towards a goal Katehi set in fall 2011 to reach a billion dollars in research funding by 2020. Katehi’s “2020 Initiative” also calls for increased undergraduate enrollment and new faculty hires. The new professors would generate additional research grants and programs that address the world’s most critical issues in food, water, health, society, energy and the environment, as well as providing new opportunities for students to learn.

Much of the funding for basic research at UC Davis supports jobs for professional scientists, technical staff, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students. Research projects may also lead to commercially applicable technologies and startup companies. The UC Davis Office of Research filed 224 new invention disclosures with the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office in 2011-12, bringing UC Davis' total portfolio of inventions to 1,190. Since fiscal year 2003-4, 44 startup companies have been formed at UC Davis.

Major funding sources

Awards from the federal government rose to $400 million from $380 million the previous year. The largest single sponsor among federal awards was the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the National Institutes of Health. DHHS grants to UC Davis researchers totaled $195 million. The U.S. Department of Agriculture was the second largest source of federal funds, awarding $56 million. The National Science Foundation was third at $48 million.

Funding from the state of California increased sharply. The 2011-12 total was $139 million, compared to $99 million in 2010-11 and $60 million in 2009-10. (State research funds are awarded on a competitive basis and are separate from state general fund allocations to the university.)

Research support from corporations and nonprofit business-related organizations totaled $70 million, $12.5 million more than the previous fiscal year. (Nonprofit business-related organizations include industry and trade associations, unions, and agricultural marketing boards.)

Other major sources of research funds and total awards included:

  • Philanthropic foundations and nonprofit organizations: $30 million
  • Charities: $25 million
  • Other institutions of higher education (principally through grant subcontracts): $40 million
  • Other UC campuses or the UC Office of the President: $27 million
  • Government sources other than the federal government or state of California: $13 million

Research grants and contracts from philanthropic foundations and other nonprofit organizations are counted separately from private gifts. Following nationally accepted guidelines, grants from philanthropic foundations also may be counted towards philanthropic totals. However, they are counted only once for university accounting purposes.

Awards by recipient college or school

Research funds awarded to the UC Davis School of Medicine from all sources totaled $205 million, while the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences received $143 million.

Totals for other schools and colleges:

  • School of Veterinary Medicine: $99 million
  • College of Engineering: $87 million
  • College of Biological Sciences: $53 million
  • Office of Research: $46 million (on behalf of campuswide interdisciplinary Organized Research Units such as the Bodega Marine Laboratory, the California National Primate Research Center and the John Muir Institute for the Environment)
  • Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences: $37 million
  • University Extension: $24 million
  • Division of Social Sciences: $16 million
  • Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies: $15 million
  • School of Education: $10 million
  • Division of Graduate Studies: $9 million

In January, the UC Davis Office of Research announced formation of an Interdisciplinary Frontiers Program to spur new collaborative research across the campus. The aim is to provide seed funding to establish research projects that can then compete for larger external grants from government, industry, philanthropic foundations or other sources. The first round of 13 grants, totaling more than $10 million, were announced this year to science and engineering researchers. A call for proposals for another round of grants to investigators in the humanities and arts was issued in October.

Research award totals include both the direct costs of research, such as salaries and laboratory supply costs, and "indirect" costs. Indirect costs support the university’s research infrastructure, going toward such expenses as upkeep and utilities for research laboratories. Grants and contracts are awarded with strict conditions that typically bar use of the funds for purposes other than research.

Research funding totals were calculated on the basis of dollars transferred to the university during the 2011-12 fiscal year. Where funds are awarded over several years but transferred only in yearly increments, the money is counted in the year received. If all of the funding for a multiyear award is provided at the beginning of a grant, the funds are counted in that year but not in subsequent years.

According to a survey by the National Science Foundation, UC Davis ranked 15th among U.S. public universities in research and development expenditures in fiscal year 2009-10 (the most recent year for which figures are available).

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and about two dozen specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

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