McRobbie said these are remarkable achievements because competition for research funding, especially at the federal level, has been rapidly increasing over the past five years.
“This is the first time we, or any institution in Indiana, has exceeded a half billion dollars in one year,” said McRobbie. “These results reflect extremely favorably on the quality of our faculty’s research and the importance of the work they are undertaking. Federal funding for research has actually been declining significantly in the past several years, and that has meant that only the highest quality and most promising research proposals are winning support. I am very pleased that we are doing so well in this arena. And all our faculty, staff and students who have contributed to this outstanding achievement are to be congratulated.”
In addition to funding totals, IU’s faculty researchers also set records for the number of proposals submitted — 4,329 — and the number of proposals that actually received funding — 2,742.
McRobbie noted that the odds of an applicant actually receiving a grant from either the NIH or NSF have steadily dropped in recent years from about one in three to one in five. This is partly due to a growing number of applications for these grants as well as flat funding levels provided to these agencies by Congress.
“This growth in grants and awards demonstrates the dedication and hard work of Indiana University scientists across the state as they compete for these increasingly scarce research funds,” said Ora Pescovitz, interim vice president of research administration at IU, and executive associate dean for research affairs at the IU School of Medicine. “Their efforts will pay off in future jobs and better health for the people of Indiana.”
Indiana University’s NIH awards for fiscal year 2008 totaled nearly $153 million, an increase of $26 million, or 21 percent over the previous year. Much of that money is funding medical research at the IU School of Medicine in Indianapolis, although there are also significant research activities under way at IU’s eight regional medical centers around the state.
McRobbie said IU’s research activities have many public benefits.
“Scientific research not only creates high-paying jobs and economic activity in the community, it can foster new company start-ups that, in turn, employ even more people and attract more investment to the state. And, much of the research we are engaging in today has the potential to enormously improve the human condition,” he said.
As examples, he noted that faculty at the IU School of Medicine are finding new ways to detect and treat cancer, discovering more effective treatments for diseases such as AIDS and diabetes, and improving techniques for conducting life-saving surgeries on children.
A key NIH award announced this year was a $25 million grant over five years to the IU School of Medicine to initiate the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI). This new organization, which will be jointly managed by IU and Purdue University, is designed to improve the process by which laboratory discoveries of basic science are transformed into new medical treatments and products — a process called translational research.
Awards from the NSF in FY ’08 totaled $28.5 million, an increase of nearly $3 million or 11 percent. Much of this funding is being used to fund basic research projects at IU Bloomington, especially in chemistry, biology, psychology and informatics. Researchers in these projects are engaged in such activities as developing new insight into how our brains process information and examining inner cellular structures to discover precisely how the basic processes of life are carried out at the molecular level.
The two largest grants, totaling $69 million, came from the Lilly Endowment of Indianapolis. That includes $44 million for a new, world-class faculty studio building at the IU Jacobs School of Music and $25 million to the IU School of Law–Bloomington for hiring and retaining top faculty members.