With more than $17 million in federal stimulus dollars committed to research at Kansas University, campus leaders are positioning to earn even more in the future.
The money already committed is funding several projects across the Lawrence and KU Medical Center campuses, with dollars committed to fighting maladies from cancer to epilepsy and assisting with the measurement of polar ice sheets.
Steve Warren, KU vice provost for research and graduate studies, said that while KU has already seen the benefits of the funding, the federal government has yet to consider some major applications. Most come from agencies that are already major contributors to KU research, such as the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
The grants submitted go beyond just funding new research, and include some building renovation requests, including at least one for part of Haworth Hall, Warren said.
KU has encouraged faculty members to take advantage of the funding available through the stimulus program, and has submitted 155 applications for the highly-competitive grants on the Lawrence campus, and has received approval for 44 projects so far on the Lawrence campus, worth about $10.7 million. The remaining funds have come from projects at KUMC.
Robert Hanzlik, a KU professor of medicinal chemistry, received more than $400,000 in funding to supplement existing research on protein structure and function.
The funding allowed him to hire three faculty members to the existing center for research, which involves four Kansas campuses. With those faculty members come new labs, and with the labs come new jobs for graduate students and investigators.
Hanzlik said the stimulus funds have energized the project.
“It’s given us a little more horsepower,” he said.
He said he wasted no time in applying for the money once he learned of the opportunity, beginning to gather information within a day of hearing of the availability of funds.
“It’s more than striking when the iron’s hot,” Hanzlik said. “It’s anticipating when the iron’s going to be hot.”
With schools only recently submitting their first reports of stimulus dollars received, Warren said it’s still early to compare meaningful results across different schools. By the end of the year, more data should be available to make meaningful comparisons, he said.
“I do think this is a story that’s going to evolve as we’re going forward,” he said.
At the KUMC, most of the dollars are supporting projects in KU’s research areas of strength — cancer, neuroscience, reproductive science, kidney studies and liver studies, said Paul Terranova, vice chancellor for research at KUMC.
Some bigger applications on the Kansas City, Kan., campus, including renovations and expensive medical equipment, have still yet to be considered, Terranova said.
As with all stimulus dollars, the university is required to spend the money within the next two years.
“That really accomplishes what President Obama wanted, in that we need to buy more supplies and hire more people to stimulate the economy now,” Terranova said.