Research support from external sources broke all records at UCSB during the last fiscal year. A total of $194 million was received from federal and state agencies, corporations and foundations in fiscal 2008 — an increase of $18 million over the previous fiscal year. In the past two years, UCSB has reported a remarkable 22 percent increase in extramural funding.
“We take great pride in the achievements of our faculty, researchers, staff and students, who together are advancing the frontiers of knowledge and making important contributions to our society,” Chancellor Henry Yang said. “I congratulate all of our colleagues on this year’s record level of research funding — more than double what it was a decade ago. It is a wonderful testament to the pre-eminence of our faculty and researchers, and the intellectual vitality of our campus.”
In addition to a wide variety of research units, close to 50 academic departments across the disciplines — engineering, the sciences, humanities, social sciences, education and the arts — were awarded grant funds for research by external agencies in the fiscal year that ended June 30.
Although most of UCSB’s external funding comes from federal agencies, that sector was down slightly this year, according to Michael Witherell, vice chancellor for research. However, the university experienced significant increases in funding from nonfederal sources, including private nonprofit foundations and technology companies. Total funding from private nonprofits, mostly foundations, also set a record — $30 million.
“UCSB researchers are making new discoveries every month on topics from dark matter in the universe to the extinction rate of species,” Witherell said. “The level of extramural funding represents a leading indicator of similar research breakthroughs in the near future.”
The largest foundation grant was awarded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to Michael Gazzaniga of the Psychology Department. The grant is being used to establish a $10 million national program on the law and neuroscience.
It will be based at the UCSB Neuroscience Research Institute and involve other top universities.
Another significant grant came from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which awarded $389,000 to Debra Lieberman of the Communication Department. The grant will go toward establishing a national program office within UCSB’s Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research to oversee a new $8.25 million competitive research grants program on how interactive games can be used to improve health.
Industry sponsors awarded $12 million directly to UCSB’s researchers, while another $5 million in federal funding was redirected to the university through industry partners. The $17 million is almost twice as much as the $9 million from industry partners two years ago.
This also reflects a new emphasis at UCSB on developing an integrated approach to corporate collaborations. According to Witherell, this helps UCSB reduce the barriers that can impede successful university-industry partnerships.
Two recent examples of successful partnerships with corporate sponsors involve research by Galen Stucky, a UCSB professor of chemistry and biochemistry, whose advances in technology and medical products were developed into commercial applications by two companies:
» Z-Medica Corp. is now marketing a new life-saving, blood-clotting gauze, which can help stop severe bleeding. It is based on product improvements developed in Stucky’s laboratory.
» GRT Inc., a Santa Barbara-based company, announced recently that it has entered into agreements with Marathon GTF Technology, Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Marathon Oil Corporation, to cooperate on the advancement of technology for the conversion of natural gas into transportation fuels.
Stucky’s research is a perfect example of how a university and companies can work together to overcome problems and achieve goals that benefit everyone, Witherell said. (For his work on the blood-clotting gauze, Stucky recently received the Department of Defense’s prestigious Advanced Technology Applications for Combat Casualty Care Award.)
The Mitsubishi Chemical Center for Advanced Materials (MC-CAM) at UCSB is another illustration of what academic researchers can accomplish in collaboration with an industry partner.
“MC-CAM has been extraordinarily productive by any measure – scientific papers, patentable inventions, and new doctorates in forefront technologies,” Witherell said.
Another important grant to UCSB came from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the agency that was established by Proposition 71 to promote stem cell research in California. CIRM awarded $4.6 million in grants to UCSB’s new Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering.
“By using this to renovate existing laboratory space,” Witherell said, “we are able to get a fast start in developing this growing area of research at UCSB.”
UCSB’s success in attracting support for research mirrors a national trend. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, total spending on academic research in the United States grew slightly in fiscal 2007, even as the subtotal financed by the federal government dropped.