UF research spending up 15% to record $1.25 billion
University of Florida faculty conducted a record $1.25 billion in research in fiscal year 2023, a nearly 15% increase over 2022.
One year after exceeding $1 billion in research expenditures for the first time, teams of UF faculty across the institution added another $160 million to the total. This year’s success was due in large part to a record $530 million in spending on projects funded by the federal government and nearly $200 million in state and local government spending. Both were up about 13%.
This research expenditure data is based on UF’s response to the National Science Foundation’s annual Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey, which is the national standard in comparing research spending among the hundreds of universities around the country. The numbers reflect spending for the fiscal year that ended June 30.
UF is one of only about 35 public and private universities around the country with more than $1 billion in annual research spending, a list that includes Johns Hopkins, the University of Michigan, UCLA, Harvard, Stanford, Penn State and the University of California-Berkeley. In the most recent HERD report, based on 2021 fiscal year data, UF ranked 16th among public universities and 27th overall.
In a sign of things to come, UF also surpassed $1 billion in new external awards for the first time in 2023, including $792 million from the federal government, nearly $77 million from state and local governments, $98 million from private foundations and $61 million from industry.
Public and private agencies typically award multi-year funding to the university based on competitive proposals submitted by researchers. That funding translates into laboratory supplies and equipment, salaries for faculty, staff and students, and other expenses, all directed at conducting the proposed research over the term of the award.
“Since 2012, UF research expenditures have increased by nearly 80%, nearly doubling the rate of growth for university research spending nationally,” said David Norton, vice president for research at UF. “This success is a testament to the remarkable talent and dedication of our research faculty, post-docs, staff and students, as well as our focus on addressing opportunities and challenges that are highly relevant locally, nationally and globally across all disciplines.”
Nearly half of the research spending was in the six colleges of UF Health, led by the College of Medicine in Gainesville and Jacksonville with $378 million; the College of Public Health & Health Professions with $34.9 million; the College of Pharmacy with $34.8 million; the College of Veterinary Medicine with $31.3 million; the College of Dentistry with $18.7 million; and the College of Nursing with $5 million. In addition, 2023 was the first full year that the Herbert Wertheim UF Scripps Institute for Biomedical Innovation & Technology in Jupiter was part of UF’s research enterprise, accounting for $97.6 million in research spending.
In recognition of UF’s significance in cancer research and patient care, the UF Health Cancer Center received the National Cancer Institute, or NCI, designation in 2023. The center has doubled its research funding since 2016, with $48.8 million in total cancer research grants and 359 cancer research projects underway. Other major UF Health research thrusts include studies on neurological disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, pain management, antibiotic resistance, diabetes, and the application of artificial intelligence to accelerate biomedical research and improve health outcomes.
Researchers in UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) conducted over $300 million in research addressing the health of crops important to the state and beyond, including citrus, tomatoes and corn, and responding to environmental challenges like invasive species and new human and animal diseases.
Engineers in the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering conducted $148.4 million in research on such things as cybersecurity, accessibility to computer technology, storm readiness, retail theft deterrence, and robotics.
Faculty in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences conducted $63.2 million in research on diversity of topical areas including black holes, plastics recycling, the exploration of Mars, and the ethics of artificial intelligence.
In the Florida Museum of Natural History, scientists conducted $8 million in research on living species like butterflies, birds, and fish, and on fossils like the Megalodon shark and prehistoric elephants. The College of Education is leading an initiative developed by the Florida Legislature to get books into every Florida elementary school child’s hand.
UF accounts for about 40% of the State University System of Florida’s $2.3 billion in research spending annually. Research at Florida’s state universities has an estimated statewide economic impact of about $4 billion, according to recent studies.