Science + Technology

Campus breaks own record, tops $1 billion in research funding

UCLA has long been known for the breadth and quality of its research enterprise, consistently ranking among the nation's top five universities in the value of research grants and contracts received.
Now, for the first time, the campus has passed an important milestone illustrative of its comprehensive research program — $1 billion in competitively awarded research grants and contracts in a single year.
With about a month before the close of the 2009–10 fiscal year, faculty have garnered 639 grants and contracts totaling $1.02 billion, surpassing last year's campus record of $968.3 million.
"We've done terrifically well," said Vice Chancellor for Research Roberto Peccei, who has been watching the numbers steadily increase daily when he checks the online resource portal where updated statistics are posted. "It's a testament to the commitment and ingenuity of faculty across all academic disciplines as well as the dedication of the research administration staff that provides the infrastructure necessary to process the sheer volume of proposals and awards."
The two single largest sources of research funding are the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Among the most recent recipients of research funding is Alex Ortega, a professor of public health and of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, who won a $10 million grant from the NIH to establish a center to reduce cardiovascular disease risk among Latinos in East Los Angeles. And James C. Liao, the Chancellor's Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, has just been awarded $4 million to develop a method to convert carbon dioxide to liquid fuel isobutanol using electricity. Liao's grant comes from the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E). 
About $123 million of the research funding this year has come as a result of the federal government's economic stimulus legislation known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Peccei noted that stimulus funding, which can be spent only on specific research projects, does not replace the dramatic reduction in state support, which is available for a variety of non-research purposes.
Even without stimulus funding, UCLA performed well, Peccei said. When the fiscal year closes on June 30, he expects non-stimulus funding to show an increase of 3 to 5 percent from 2008–09.
The biggest winners of research funding this fiscal year have been the David Geffen School of Medicine, with $405.4 million in awards; the College of Letters and Science, with $142.7 million; the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, with $113.6 million; the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, with $95.5 million; and the School of Public Health, with $45.2 million.
The success of faculty in bringing in large awards has been particularly strong in the sciences, but the arts and social sciences also have had success.
In the College of Letters and Science, the Division of Social Sciences has brought in $9 million in grants and contracts thus far this fiscal year. The School of the Arts and Architecture has garnered $2.6 million in awards, and the School of Theater, Film and Television has won $2.4 million.
"The awards have been coming in across the board," Peccei said.
UCLA is California's largest university, with an enrollment of nearly 38,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The UCLA College of Letters and Science and the university's 11 professional schools feature renowned faculty and offer more than 323 degree programs and majors. UCLA is a national and international leader in the breadth and quality of its academic, research, health care, cultural, continuing education and athletic programs. Five alumni and five faculty have been awarded the Nobel Prize.
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