The UW drew a record-breaking $997 million in research grants and contracts for 2004–05, which is $43 million more than last year, the UW Office of Research announced Sept. 15.
More than $792 million came from the federal government, about $35 million more than last year. The UW consistently ranks as the top public university in the nation for federal science and engineering grants and is number two among all U.S. universities. Only Johns Hopkins University receives more federal research support.
When asked why the UW is a leader, Vice Provost for Research Craig Hogan responds, “In three words—it’s our faculty.” He says professors at the UW are highly talented and admired by their peers. “And they are highly entrepreneurial. They work in areas where we have something to contribute to society,” he adds.
Since these funds are awarded on a national, competitive and peer-reviewed basis, the record total is an indication of the quality of the UW faculty. Hogan said it is quite possible that the UW will break the one-billion-dollar mark in 2005–06.
A study by the UW Office of Research found that income from research grants and contracts supports more than 7,600 full-time jobs at the University. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Commerce, UW research funding generates about 33,000 jobs statewide.
“We are like an export industry, attracting outside dollars to our state,” Hogan explains. “We don’t attract as much as Boeing or Microsoft, but we’re in that class of companies.”
In addition, the University has tracked more than 185 new companies whose products and services are based on UW research findings.
Without these funds, he adds, the University could not maintain the range of public services and research and educational programs it offers. For example, more than 3,600 undergraduates incorporated research experiences into their coursework last year. New buildings and equipment often depend on research dollars as well.
“One thing that gets forgotten in all this are the products of the research,” Hogan says. “The reason the federal government funds this work is because it affects society.” One example is Genome Sciences and Biology Professor Benjamin Hall’s research in yeast genetics. “Ben Hall found a way to manufacture the hepatitis B vaccine very cheaply, about a dollar a shot. That’s a real advance for society,” Hogan says.