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Federal funding of KU research reaches new record in 2013

Monday, February 17, 2014

LAWRENCE – Federal funding of research at the University of Kansas supports advances in health, energy, information technology, the humanities and many other fields. More than 85 percent of KU’s research dollars come into the state from a variety of federal agencies, and the level of federal funding determines KU’s annual research ranking – currently 38th – among national public research universities.

In 2013, federal funding of research at KU increased for the fifth straight year, climbing from $171 million in 2012 to a record $174 million at the Lawrence and Medical Center campuses combined. Leading sources of support included the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation. Rankings based on the 2013 figures will be available next fall.

“KU researchers deserve a lot of credit,” said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. “Their work leads to discoveries that increase our knowledge and deepen our understanding. Their research supports great teaching and innovation. The environment for grant funding is incredibly competitive. The normal research challenges were magnified last year by the uncertain political situation in Washington.”

Overall, externally sponsored KU research expenditures from all sources for all purposes declined in 2013 for only the second time in the past 21 years. Spending totaled $275.2 million in 2012 and $260.5 million in 2013. The overall drop of $14.7 million reflected an $18.3 million decline in one category: capital spending. Several large capital projects were completed in 2012-13, including the new Measurement, Materials and Sustainable Environment Center and renovations to Nichols Hall and the Biodiversity Institute on the Lawrence campus, and the KU Clinical Research Center in Kansas City.

“The new and renovated facilities are one-time projects that add to our research capacity,” said Steve Warren, vice chancellor for research. “They are strategic investments in targeted areas of strength and will support research at KU for years to come.” He noted that KU research expenditures since 1993 total $3.4 billion, two-thirds of which came in the past decade.

KU continues to diversify its sources of research funding, said Warren. For example, industry-funded research grew to $10.1 million in 2013 from $8.4 million in 2012, and efforts are under way to increase the amount of research funded by private foundations.

Nationwide, the outlook for federally funded research remains clouded. “The financial effects of the ongoing federal budget sequester were evident in 2013 and are continuing into 2014,” said Warren. “Agencies are awarding fewer and smaller grants. This affects younger faculty especially. The sequester has the potential to undermine the nation’s research infrastructure and global competitiveness if it’s not ended soon.”