Newswise — The University of Chicago received a record $424 million in sponsored research funding in Fiscal Year 2008, up 4 percent from the previous year. Sponsored research funding consists of contract payments and grants from sources outside the University that support its research efforts.
Nearly 80 percent of the University's awards came from federal agencies, with the remainder from foundations, corporations and other sponsors. The University received 58 awards of more than $1 million.
Researchers in the University's Biological Sciences Division received 66 percent of the total awards; the Physical Sciences Division received 14 percent. The remainder went to other divisions, schools, centers and offices of the University including the College.
The total includes $11.9 million in awards to investigators at Argonne National Laboratory, who applied for grants through the University; these awards were included in the tally for the first time. The University of Chicago manages Argonne National Laboratory and co-manages Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy. Together these laboratories attract more than $900 million annually in research funding.
Collectively, Illinois research universities and the two national laboratories (Argonne and Fermilab) bring about $3 billion in research funding into the state each year.
"We are extremely grateful to our sponsors for their continued support of the University's ongoing research enterprise," said Donald H. Levy, the Albert A. Michelson Distinguished Service Professor in Chemistry and Vice President for Research and for National Laboratories. "Whether it's finding new ways to treat diseases, or contributing to a greater understanding of the world, the groundbreaking work of our researchers has made an enormous impact upon society."
Health agency funding
The Department of Health and Human Services, including the National Institutes of Health, is the University's primary funding agency. HHS increased funding to the University by 15 percent in FY08. Six awards from NIH were more than $3 million.
Chief among them was the Institutional Clinical and Translational Science Award, which the NIH established to help transform basic science into new medical treatments more quickly and efficiently. That program will grant $22.6 million over nearly five years for the establishment of a new Institute for Translational Medicine as well as a Committee on Clinical and Translational Science.
The new Institute for Translational Medicine will engage University and community-based clinicians in identifying high-priority clinical research questions, finding ways to bring new research findings into community-based clinical practice, and promoting the use of technology to give clinicians access to the best research evidence. These programs will directly benefit residents of Chicago's South Side, which is home to more than one million people who suffer from some of the nation's highest rates of diabetes, asthma, hypertension and other chronic conditions.
The Institute will also provide research infrastructure and training for careers in clinical and translational research. Julian Solway, the Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics and Director of the Institute for Translational Medicine, is the principal investigator for this grant.
Four University of Chicago scientists received separate research awards from the NIH, totaling $8 million, to conduct unconventional research in physics, chemistry, psychiatry and medicine that could lead to new medical treatments and other discoveries. The NIH grants are part of a $100 million investment in the future of science, given to 39 innovative researchers nationwide.
Margaret Gardel, Assistant Professor in Physics, and Rustem Ismagilov, Associate Professor in Chemistry, each received $2.5 million in direct funding to conduct biological research over the next five years as NIH Director's Pioneer Award recipients. Gardel and Ismagilov are among 12 recipients of the 2007 Director's Pioneer Awards, which are designed to support individual scientists of exceptional creativity who propose pioneering approaches to major challenges in biomedical or behavioral research.
Kristen Jacobson, Assistant Professor in Psychiatry, and Dorothy Sipkins, Assistant Professor in Medicine, were among the first group of NIH Director's New Innovator Award recipients. The 27 New Innovator Awards will each provide $1.5 million in direct funding to stimulate highly innovative research by promising new investigators.
An interdisciplinary team of University scholars in the Social Sciences Division received $7.7 million over five years from the National Institute for Child Health and Development to study environmental and biological factors in the language growth of children. Their research aims to shed light on the gap in language acquisition between young children of different socio-economic groups. Susan Goldin-Meadow, the Beardsley Ruml Distinguished Service Professor of Psychology and Comparative Human Development, is the program director and principal investigator for the grant.
High-energy physics projects
High-energy physicists received $7.6 million over three years from the National Science Foundation to tackle big issues in elementary particle physics. Specifically, the grant supports the group's leadership role in the design and construction of major subsystems and electronics, physics analysis and administration of three major experimental elementary particle physics programs.
The first program, the ATLAS experiment, is one of the six particle detector experiments under construction at the Large Hadron Collider, a new particle accelerator at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland.
The second program, the Double Chooz experiment in the French Ardennes, will precisely measure an important unknown property of the neutrino. Neutrinos are elementary particles produced abundantly in stars, the Earth's atmosphere and the cores of nuclear power plants.
Lastly, the Collider Detector at Fermilab collaboration studies high-energy particle collisions at the Tevatron, the world's highest-energy particle accelerator, and also helps to optimize the accelerator's performance. Mark Oreglia, Professor in Physics and the Enrico Fermi Institute, is the principal investigator for the grant.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation granted $4.9 million to the Urban Education Institute. UEI brings together the Consortium on Chicago School Research, University-operated charter schools, teacher training programs and leading research in support of urban public schools. The Consortium received $3 million in general operating support, and UEI received $1.9 million for its "6 to 16 Successful High School and College Transitions Program."
The Consortium will use part of its $3 million grant to gain a better understanding of the stumbling blocks that prevent some Chicago Public Schools students from making smooth transitions to high school and then to college. This groundbreaking research, led by researchers in the School of Social Service Administration, has influenced the decisions of urban school educators and policy makers across the country. John Q. Easton, CCSR Executive Director, is the principal investigator for the grant.
Urban education initiatives
UEI will use the $1.9 million grant to support three new initiatives for Chicago Public Schools students. The first is a college-readiness curriculum that is expected to pilot in early 2009. In addition, the organization will develop a new technology platform to assist students with the high school and college selection processes. Finally, the Institute will develop an online social networking tool similar to Facebook that will allow students to support each other throughout the selection processes. Timothy Knowles, the Lewis Sebring Director of the UEI, is the principal investigator for the grant.
The Humanities Division received $3.4 million from various sponsors in support of East Asian and Middle Eastern language and civilization studies, residencies for musicians, South Side Chicago arts and humanities programs, and other important initiatives.
Cosmochemists from the Department of Geophysical Sciences received $2.4 million over three years from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for the construction of an ion nanoprobe, a new instrument for isotopic and chemical measurement, at the nanometer scale, of cometary and interstellar dust returned to Earth by spacecraft. The data collected from this instrument may lead to a greater understanding of the origin and early evolution of the solar system. Andrew Davis, Professor in Geophysical Sciences and the Enrico Fermi Institute, is the principal investigator for the grant.
Over the past decade, University research funding has increased by 93 percent. The number of awards has also grown from 1,459 in FY98 to 2,126 in FY08.