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UC Irvine receives $529 million in research funding, 20 percent more than previous year’s record

UC Irvine
UC Irvine received a record-breaking amount of research funding last year, much of which will go to projects at UCI Health Sciences and the Henry Samueli School of Engineering.
(File)

UC Irvine announced that the school received $529 million in grants and contracts during the 2019-20 fiscal year, which ended June 30.

This is a record for the school, a roughly 20% gain from last year’s total, also a record.

The National Institutes of Health, the nation’s medical research agency under the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, was the largest single source of funding with $189 million, and the National Science Foundation granted $65 million to the university.

“This research funding milestone surpasses our campus strategic plan goal of $500 million while accelerating UCI’s ascent among its Assn. of American Universities peers as a world-class research university,” UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman said in a news release. “Despite the hurdles we face during the COVID-19 pandemic, the UCI community continues to make a meaningful impact on regional economic development and to improve society through globally prominent research.”

Pramod Khargonekar, who has been the university’s vice chancellor for research for four years, said the university has been laying the foundation for this success for years.

Their strategy includes recruiting and supporting faculty, investing in research infrastructure, encouraging groups of faculty to go after major projects together and creating a culture where research and innovation is valued.

“The growth, I believe, is sustainable, because it’s based on solid fundamentals,” he said.

UCI Health Sciences brought in a significant portion of the research funding, with $190 million (36 percent) going to the School of Medicine. The Chao Family Compehensive Cancer Center and the Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders also received significant support.

The funding from the National Science Foundation will go to two new centers in the Henry Samueli School of Engineering.

On Sept. 1, Xiaoqing Pan will lead the opening of the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, which has been in development for about five years.

And Athina Markopoulou will lead the Protecting Personal Data Flow on the Internet: An NSF SaTC Frontier Project, a recently created center that is dedicated to safeguarding personal data privacy in an increasingly networked world.

“This has been an important field for some time and it’s growing,” Khargonekar said. “Especially after COVID-19, everything is online. Look at how much of our healthcare has become telehealth.”

Other notable projects include Nancy Rodriguez’s study on the sources and consequences of prison violence in seven states; Jenny Yang’s project developing methods for the capture and removal of carbon dioxide from the air and from flue gases emitted by fossil fuel plants; the Institute for Clinical & Translational Science’s efforts to speed the transformation of scientific discoveries into medical treatments for patients; and Jessica Millward and Tiffany Willoughby-Herard’s partnership with Baltimore’s Morgan State University to encourage UC faculty to actively engage with faculty and students at historically Black colleges and universities to attract and retain graduate scholars focused on African American content.

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