Despite a dearth in federal research dollars, Kansas University's research engine ran strong in fiscal 2006, posting growth in several areas, KU reported Tuesday.
"We are competing and winning," Jim Roberts, vice provost for research, said of KU researchers' receipt of grant funding.
Roberts pointed to a 13 percent increase in research awards for fiscal 2006 and called the growth "incredible." KU brought in $218 million in research awards, up from $194 million in fiscal 2005.
Research expenditures - the total that KU spent for research, development and training - rose by 4 percent to $292 million. Expenditures are a measure of research activity.
Roberts said any growth is good as KU and other institutions face an increasingly competitive playing field and sources become more scarce.
The National Institutes of Health, the largest single source of research funds in the United States, faced its first budget decline in several years in 2005. The drop followed a five-year doubling of NIH's budget from 1998 to 2003.
Steven Warren, professor and director of the Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies at KU, said it's a stressful environment for researchers.
"Particularly young investigators - it's a real tough time for them," he said.
Persistence is key, Warren said.
In a research summit Tuesday at KU, Provost Richard Lariviere urged researchers not to fear the increasingly competitive environment, but to increase the rate of grant submissions and have the courage to risk failure.
"Research is why we're here," he said. "It is what differentiates us from every other teaching institution in the world."
KU compiles the report annually. Outside agencies watch some of the figures, which are a basis for rankings in the U.S. News and World Report surveys and for membership in the Association of American Universities.
KU ranks 58th among public universities and colleges for federally financed research-and-development expenditures, according to 2004 figures, which are the most recent available from the National Science Foundation. In the previous ranking, KU ranked 59th.
KU ranks behind such schools at the University of Texas, which ranked 18th in the latest NSF report. But KU comes out ahead of Iowa State University, which ranked 63rd, and the University of Missouri, which ranked 64th.