Thursday, September 11, 2008

USCB pulls in $194 million from external sources


The sluggish economy hasn’t slowed research at UC Santa Barbara, where officials yesterday announced the seaside school pulled in $194 million last fiscal year from external sources, an $18 million increase over the prior year.
While the majority of external funding for research comes from federal agencies, about $30 million donated during last fiscal year, which ended June 30, came from nonprofit foundations.

The growing stream of funding, which has climbed 22 percent over the past two years, ensures the university can continue vigorous research in its 50 academic departments.
“We take great pride in the achievements of our faculty, researchers, staff and students, who together are advancing the frontiers of knowledge and making important contributions to our society,” said UCSB Chancellor Henry T. Yang. “It is a wonderful testament to the preeminence of our faculty and researchers, and the intellectual vitality of our campus.”
Yang said the new funding record is more than double what it was a decade ago.
According to Michael Witherell, vice chancellor of research at UCSB, federal funding accounts for $137 million of the total.
Witherell said the engineering and science departments receive the bulk of the research funding. Within the engineering department, electrical and computer engineering each reeled in over $20 million. In the sciences, the physics and biology departments also each received more than $20 million.
“Those are big numbers,” Witherell said.
But while research dollars have multiplied at UCSB, Witherell said federal money, though still a hefty sum has remained relatively stagnant over the past two years. He said foundation money has picked up the slack, though he’d like to see yearly increases coming from the government as well.
“The fact of the matter is, with all these complications, our research funding [has gone] up 22 percent in two years, so we’re competing well for what dollars there are,” he said.
The largest private grant, about $10 million, came from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. It was awarded to Michael Gazzaniga of the psychology department. The grant is being used to establish a new $10 million national program on law and neuroscience.
The program will be based at the school and will be called the UCSB Neuroscience Research Institute.
Aside from foundation grants, Witherell said UCSB has had success in developing corporate partnerships, which contribute great sums of research money to several departments.
A recent example of such a partnership involves research by UCSB professor of chemistry and biochemistry Galen Stucky, who developed new blood-clotting gauze that is now being marketed by Z-Medica Corp.
Stucky received the Department of Defense’s Advanced Technology Applications for Combat Casualty Care Award for the gauze.
Witherell said industry sponsors contributed a total of $17 million to the university, nearly double what it was two years ago — a clear sign he said that UCSB researchers are focused on securing and maintaining industry partnerships.
A $4.6 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, an agency that according to a UCSB news release was established by Proposition 71 to promote stem cell research in California, will be used to create the school’s new Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering.
Witherell said this grant is being used in part to renovate existing laboratory space in order to quickly accommodate the growing field of stem cell research.
While the $194 million is a large sum, Witherell said it pales in comparison to universities with medical schools. But this is to be expected, he said, since institutions with medical schools generally always receiver more research funding.
However, when stacked up next to schools without medical programs, Witherell said UCSB ranks near the top 20, according to the National Science Foundation.
“UCSB researchers are making new discoveries every month on topics from dark matter in the universe to the extinction rate of species,” he said. “The level of extramural funding represents a leading indicator of similar research breakthroughs in the near future.”

No comments: