UF Research Funding Hits Record High Despite Drops In Federal Spending

Published: July 24 1997


GAINESVILLE — Research funding at the University of Florida soared nearly 25 percent last year to a record $255.9 million, even as overall federal research spending — the university’s main funding source — is on the decline.

Figures for the 1996-97 fiscal year that ended June 30 show a 22.9 percent jump in federal research funding. Funding to UF from each of four federal agencies — commerce, defense, education and energy — increased by more than 75 percent.

“As federal research funding has declined, the agencies are becoming even more selective in awarding their grants,” said Karen A. Holbrook, vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School at UF. “The fact that our faculty have been able to secure even more federal funding in this environment is testimony to the quality of their proposals.”

Federal research makes up more than half of UF’s total, with $144.7 million, including a record $51.3 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a 13.6 percent increase. National Science Foundation funding rose 12 percent to $16.9 million, also a record high for UF. The Department of Defense awarded another $24.6 million, including more than $13 million to equip the UF Brain Institute, currently under construction and scheduled to open next year.

Much of the NIH funding goes to UF’s Health Science Center, which saw its funding increase 38.2 percent from $89 million last year to $123 million this year, thanks to 50 percent increases for the College of Medicine in Gainesville and UF’s urban medical campus in Jacksonville. The College of Medicine received $101.5 million and Health Science Center/Jacksonville received $4.16 million.

The record funding from the National Science Foundation helped boost the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences by nearly 31 percent to its own record of $25.5 million, up from $19.5 million last year. With nearly $9.5 million in funding, the department of chemistry was up almost $2.5 million, or 35.5 percent, over last year. Eight other liberal arts departments more than doubled their funding from the previous year.

“It’s rewarding to see the both the traditionally well-funded hard sciences like chemistry and physics succeeding, along with smaller humanities departments like African studies, geography, religion and sociology,” Holbrook said.

UF also received $38.8 million from state of Florida agencies, an 11.2 percent increase, and a record $32.1 million from industry, a 19 percent increase. During the last decade, industry support to UF has grown more than 200 percent, more than any other research funding source.

The university also had a banner year in generating revenue from royalties and licenses on technologies on which it holds the patents.

Thanks to the continuing success of products such as Trusopt, a glaucoma drug developed at UF and licensed to Merck pharmaceuticals, and Gatorade, the nation’s leading sports drink, the UF Research Foundation brought in about $18.2 million, up from $11.5 million last year.


Joseph Kays