August 23, 2006
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill grew its total amount of research grants and contracts in fiscal year 2006 to a new high of $593 million.

The total represents a 2.4 percent increase from fiscal 2005’s $579 million, and more than twice the amount the university received as recently as 1997.

“This is a great tribute to our faculty and to their excellent research, which improves the lives of people around the world while helping to transform North Carolina’s economy,” said Chancellor James Moeser.

The growth comes at a time when the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which has historically accounted for slightly more than half of all research funding at UNC, experienced a cut in appropriations in 2006 with no increase expected for 2007.

The strong showing also coincides with the success of UNC’s research centers of excellence, which have been a point of strategic emphasis in the university’s plan for research in the past several years, said Tony Waldrop, vice chancellor for research and economic development.

“By encouraging and enabling faculty from different disciplines to tackle tough scientific and societal problems together, we not only create a more robust research and educational environment, we also give the university a competitive edge for funding dollars,” Waldrop said.

In the fall of 2005, Carolina received the greatest number of NIH “Roadmap for Medical Research” awards in the country — eight of 21. These awards fund interdisciplinary research, such as that performed by UNC’s centers, and focus on medical issues that the Institutes, collectively, think are the most important and complex. Carolina’s total funding through this program, in its second year, totals $15.5 million.

Health-related research continues to receive the bulk of research dollars, with the School of Medicine bringing in $288 million in fiscal 2006, according to data maintained by UNC’s Office of Sponsored Research. The School of Public Health received $61 million and the College of Arts and Sciences received $60 million. Interdisciplinary research centers, institutes and other units that do not fall under one particular school, accounted for $132 million. Funding sources include state and federal agencies, industry and foundations and non-profit organizations.

The growth of research funding also translates into economic growth for the state. Data that reflect the economic impact of technological development include the number of patents, spin-off companies, jobs and licensed technology. In 2006, UNC was awarded 21 patents; started five new companies, bringing the total to 35; licensed 43 inventions and received a total of $2.2 million in licensed technology.

While the total research activity helps UNC maintain its position among the nation’s top research universities, the numbers reflect one shortcoming. Carolina lags far behind most research universities in the country, public and private, in the amount of research funding received from private industry. Only 4 percent of the 2006 revenues came from this sector.

“UNC has positioned itself as a leader. We have proven our ability to contribute to the economy and to science,” Waldrop said. “But attracting more private funding is one area that is essential to our continued growth. We’re committed to doing that, in part with the successful launch of Carolina North. Having a research campus where interdisciplinary academic research collaborates with private industry will dramatically affect our ability to achieve even greater success to benefit the people of North Carolina and beyond.”


Related links:
The Office of Research and Economic Development:

News Services contact: Clinton Colmenares, (919) 843-1991 or

School of Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, (919) 967-7467 or



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