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UF tops half-billion mark in research funding for first time


Tuesday, August 22, 2006. GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida received a record $518.8 million in research funding in 2006, driven by cutting-edge biomedical research and a growing relationship with private industry.

UF passed half a billion dollars for the first time in the fiscal year that ended June 30, thanks in large part to a $13.4 million increase in funding from the National Institutes of Health. Overall, federal funding rose to $324.4 million. Other major federal sponsors include the National Science Foundation, $39.6 million; the U.S. Department of Agriculture, $33.3 million; and the Department of Defense, $23.1 million.

“It’s a testimony to the quality of our faculty that UF’s NIH funding continues to increase at a time when the agency’s budget has leveled off and the competition for funding has increased considerably,” said Win Phillips, UF’s vice president for research.

About 20 percent of some 47,000 NIH proposals were funded last year, down from about 32 percent in 2000.

UF’s Institute on Aging received two of the largest NIH awards in 2005-06: $2.7 million to study how exercise can prevent disability in the elderly and $2.7 million to study rehabilitation techniques designed to improve walking in the first year after a stroke. Other large NIH awards included $2.1 million for a biosafety laboratory in UF’s planned emerging pathogens facility; and $1.6 million to study one of several incurable forms of blindness that afflict about 200,000 Americans.

UF’s industry funding rose from $49.7 million in 2005 to $62.4 million last year. As with NIH, funding from industry grew more than 25 percent despite what the National Science Foundation calls “declining support” in industrial funding of academic research and development.

“The initiatives the university has undertaken in recent years in areas like genetics and nanoscience are attractive to industrial partners,” Phillips said. “The University of Florida’s research strategy makes it a natural partner for growth industries.”

Among the largest industry grants was $1.5 million to conduct clinical trials on new HIV treatments; and $1.5 million to study the use of lasers to repair macular degeneration that leads to blindness.

UF’s Health Science Center accounted for just over half of the university’s total, with its six colleges receiving a record $271 million, up 5.4 percent. The College of Engineering saw an 18.8 percent increase, from $63.4 million in 2005 to $75.2 million last year. The university’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences saw its awards increase 3.8 percent to $87.5 million.

“Growth in research has a ripple effect across all of the university’s missions,” UF President Bernie Machen said. “Our faculty are the engine of a robust research enterprise that increases economic development collaborations, provides unique opportunities for students and enhances the university’s reputation among its peers.”


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