Kansas University reported that it spent $224.6 million in federal research dollars in 2010, an 8.4 percent increase over 2009.
The figure was buoyed by federal stimulus dollars that will disappear this year. Still, officials said that even without the stimulus funds, KU still increased its research expenses by 3 percent.
That research came in areas across the academic spectrum, from cancer to engineering to biosciences and beyond, said Steve Warren, vice chancellor for research and graduate studies.
KU is looking to track its research in more meaningful ways, Warren said. One way is to get a better sense of how many citations researchers receive for their work, to see how relevant KU’s research is in its field of study.
Measuring dollars from federal research grants only tells half the story, Warren said.
“They’re a sign of input” of dollars into the system, he said. “But they aren’t really a sign of output.”
Warren said that while the increase during the previous year was positive news, the competition for federal dollars will likely increase in the coming years as entities like the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health face funding cuts.
“In the end, what’s most concerning is that the growth of the U.S. economy over the past 30 years has been due to our ability to innovate,” Warren said, and that cuts to major federal agencies that fund research could hamper the country’s ability to do that in the future.
Paul Terranova, vice chancellor for research at KU Medical Center, said KUMC accounted for about $90 million of the $224.6 million in federal research dollars spent at KU.
He said that the increase was a positive sign and that at KUMC, researchers were taking steps to ensure they were able to continue to grow their research funding from the federal government.
“When the funding gets tight, we try to put in more — and more strategic — grants in areas we feel like we’ll have a good chance” of being accepted, Terranova said.