Purdue hits research funding record in 2010
Purdue cancer researchers categorize plasma samples at a research lab at Bindley Bioscience Center in Purdue's Discovery Park. Record research funding to Purdue in 2010 will allow the university to expand this center and support development of other research infrastructure. (Purdue News Service photo/Jim Schenke)
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University saw the largest dollar jump in research funding in its history during the 2010 fiscal year - a $96 million increase - and faculty won several major centers to further research into areas from reducing earthquake risks to creating more energy-efficient buildings.
Funding from research awards went from $342 million last fiscal year to $438 million this past fiscal year, which ended June 30.
A significant amount of funding was awarded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or ARRA, and a major factor in attracting research dollars has been the university's focus on five key areas: life and health sciences; cyberinfrastructure and information technology; defense and NASA; energy and environment; and science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, or STEM.
"Our strengths align with national priorities; we're well-situated to address through research some of the major challenges of our time," said Purdue President France A. Córdova. "This record year speaks to the talent of our faculty and research staff and the relevant, high-quality research projects they propose."
A critical component in this year's funding has been the addition of large centers, including a $105 million National Science Foundation-funded George E. Brown Jr. Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation, or NEES, and a $23.5 million Center for High Performance Buildings, funded in part by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Each of the centers contributes several million dollars every year for five years, said Richard Buckius, Purdue's vice president for research.
"The centers also establish momentum for the university by building on existing laboratories and bringing in top scholars, providing a competitive edge in future proposals," he said.
Center proposals were bolstered by the presence of Discovery Park, a new concept for laboratories and facilities initiated in 2001 that enables interdisciplinary research to be carried out across the campus, he said.
Discovery Park facilities include the Bindley Bioscience Center, Birck Nanotechnology Center, Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, the Gerald D. and Edna E. Mann Hall, and the Hall for Discovery and Learning Research.
Córdova has continued to support development of research infrastructure with the recent completion of the Hockmeyer Hall of Structural Biology, the announcement of a high-performance buildings center at the Ray W. Herrick Laboratories and an addition to the Bindley Bioscience Center.
"All of these buildings and laboratories provide the necessary infrastructure to support ambitious research initiatives and bring together investigators from various disciplines to work on a particular research challenge," Buckius said. "The facilities allow the university to take on large interdisciplinary research projects such as the $105 million NSF award to lead a national earthquake engineering network of 14 university research sites.
"We've got a tremendously productive, creative faculty. In addition, over the past two years the university has established pre-award support centers that are dedicated to helping faculty get their proposals out the door. This enables the faculty members to focus on the creative aspects of their research."
This new Purdue initiative centralizes pre-award support and provides the services to all faculty members. The centers assist with the processing and coordination of grant proposals, including budgeting, coordination of cost-sharing, subcontracts, electronic submissions and final institutional approval.
The increase in research awards benefits the state and local economies as well.
"As a general rule, every $1 million in research funding supports employment of seven full-time staff," said Victor L. Lechtenberg, vice provost for engagement. "Innovation from research also spurs creation of spinoff companies in Indiana and finds its way into new products manufactured in the state."
The 2010 spike was unusually high partly because of ARRA funding and is expected to subside slightly, Buckius said.
"It's difficult for any academic institution to maintain a nearly 30 percent increase, but I expect the overall upward trend to continue," he said. "Even if we didn't have the ARRA funding we would still have grown because of the nature of the research we do and the direction the country's going in terms of national priorities in the sciences, technology and energy research."
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