Our federal partnership

The global pandemic has made it more apparent than ever that the University of Washington is at the forefront of producing knowledge, tackling complex societal challenges and preparing all members of our local and national communities to be responsible and engaged citizens. This work is pursued by all our schools and colleges across the University. While each is making unique contributions, the totality of the UW’s contributions directly arising from federal investment is greater than the sum of the discoveries by individual colleges and schools.

Every fall, more than half the coho salmon that return to Puget Sound’s urban streams die before they can spawn. In some streams, they all die. But scientists didn’t know why. Now a team led by researchers at the University of Washington Tacoma, UW and Washington State University Puyallup have discovered the answer. (This research was funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.) Read story

Only through historic and consistent federal investment in science and scientific research could the UW and our nation begin to address the country’s wide-ranging needs throughout the pandemic. By leveraging federal, state and private dollars, the UW is developing and fostering the next generation of leaders, thinkers and doers, who are actively addressing the nation’s most complex challenges and accelerating innovation today while creating the advances, technologies and expertise of the future.

At the UW, we view the federal support as long-term investments in the development of ideas, designed to pay significant dividends on both a national and global scale — and the pandemic has proven that it has. This funding has created a well-educated and nimble workforce and led to innovative solutions to the grand challenges of our time. And always, we strive to be positive and responsible stewards of federal resources.

For years, we have been focusing our collective efforts through two specific initiatives, the Population Health Initiative and Race & Equity Initiative — and this year has shown that these two foci have been critically important and at the forefront of our social and political consciousness. As the globe struggles to overcome the pandemic, our initiatives strive to provide the answers to the tough questions that have been laid bare during this challenging time. While across our institution we have all made progress, all of us can and should work harder to do more and push further. To do so, we need additional help from the federal government. We need our government to create a welcoming and inclusive environment by action through national policies and structures that are welcoming to all citizens and global visitors.

The UW’s research and innovation have driven the Washington state and U.S. economies for decades and will serve as a catalyst for recovery from the pandemic. The return on this investment is long term and sustained. Our federal priorities for 2021 reflect a combination of our past accomplishments and a promise to continue to push the boundaries of excellence to serve our students, our state and our nation.

Federal investment in research and education

We thank Congress for its recent robust support of federal research funding and urge continued critical investments in basic and applied science in a broad spectrum of fields across all federal research-supporting agencies and directorates. The UW was proud to be awarded $1.231 billion in FY2020 in federally sponsored research.


  • More than 286 specialized research centers are housed at the UW. Projects at these centers and across the UW sustain 12,203 jobs.
  • The UW shares research projects with universities in 33 countries and 49 states, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.

The UW continues to view support for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as our top federal funding priority and the National Science Foundation (NSF) as our second priority. Every college and school across the UW has a grant funded by either NIH or NSF, if not both agencies. The UW received more than $661 million in FY2020 from NIH, making it our largest single federal funding source, and $125 million from NSF.

Overall, the UW received more than $784 million from the Department of Health and Human Services in FY2020, which includes funding from NIH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Resources and Services Administration and others.

Maintaining federal investment in research is not simply about singular monetary investments. Research programs need time, sustained resources and infrastructure support to mature and succeed. Inconsistent rules and guidance from federal agencies or funding instability — whether from continuing resolutions, one-time increases or proposed cuts — undermine the decades of progress. Instability sets up researchers, research institutions, agencies, innovation and our nation for failure.


Precision mapping with satellite images and drone photos could help predict infections of a widespread tropical disease. (This research was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.) Read story

The pandemic has caused significant disruption to the ability of researchers and labs to conduct their research. For example, understandably, travel into the field has been difficult, and labs have restricted the number of people who can access them at one time, both of which have hindered experiments. Agencies have been understanding and accommodating to keep researchers employed during the pandemic. However, as states and nations continue to enforce strong social-distancing protocols and travel prohibitions, grantees need continued flexibility in grant spending and additional funding backfill to allow final execution of their grants.

The University of Washington’s priorities for 2021

While we believe there is a strong need to protect our investment in the research enterprise, funding for research programs is not enough. In addition to support for scientific research, federal efforts that bolster resources — both financial and programmatic — for student, faculty and staff success are fundamental to our long-term national security, economic growth and prosperity. Scientific progress and societal advancement are not possible without fostering student development and talent. We strive to ensure that the UW is an inclusive, diverse and welcoming community to all its members regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, economic status, nationality or length of time at the University. Assault, harassment and discrimination have no place on our campuses or in our nation.

We must find ways to allow all talented individuals to contribute to the education and research ecosystem, and we must break down unnecessary barriers. We urge Congress to improve our international engagement abilities by reducing visa processing times for students and visiting scholars; enact permanent, positive solutions for DACA-eligible recipients and their families; affirm the Optional Practical Training program; reaffirm our ability to welcome and engage in global discourse through international students and scholars; and create an equitable and fair green-card system. In short, we ask that Congress and the new administration come together in 2021 to finally take up and pass a comprehensive immigration reform package.


  • The UW receives more federal research dollars than any other U.S. public university; in FY19 it received $1.58 billion in total research awards (federal and nonfederal sources).
  • The UW was named the No. 1 most innovative public university in the world by Reuters in 2019.

The UW fully recognizes that access to federal resources and the ability to welcome individuals from around the world are a privilege and understands the associated responsibilities. We take seriously the security of the research enterprise and national security concerns. Foreign and domestic bad actors who strive to abuse or circumvent the grant and intellectual property system cannot be tolerated. The UW is working with the federal government and colleagues across higher education to be proactive in reinforcing or establishing protections and processes to educate faculty, students and staff on potential risks, promoting best practices for compliance with current federal and state disclosure requirements and protecting our mutual intellectual property and future economic opportunity. We urge Congress to instruct federal agencies that sponsor research to better collaborate, share information and develop best practices to recognize threats and protect federal and university investments in intellectual property.

Further, we urge the federal government to develop a holistic data-reporting framework that is user-friendly for institutions. Institutions of higher education are accustomed to submitting substantial volumes of data to systems such as the Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, and we agree that the integrity of our nation’s scientific enterprise warrants transparency regarding our global engagements and contracts. The current mechanism is cumbersome at best and prohibits true, usable disclosures. Rather than reveal nefarious actions, a well-designed system will, we believe, demonstrate instead how globally engaged and interconnected knowledge and the pursuit of science are today. We want to comply with sensible and reasonable requirements, and we ask that the federal government help create a usable system with clear guidance.

More specifically, the UW asks Congress to:

  • Maintain robust funding and support sustainable increases for NIH and NSF, as well as other federal scientific research agencies and directorates.
  • Reestablish a welcoming environment for students, scholars and visitors from around the globe with sensible safeguards, by comprehensively reforming and creating a sensible immigration system. Only a comprehensive fix will address the shortfalls that exist in a host of critical and linked provisions and programs of importance to the UW and the nation alike, such as student and scholar visas (F-1, J-1), employment-based visas (H-1B, Optional Practical Training and green cards) and DACA-eligible students and employees. The United States has benefited immeasurably from the contributions of international students and scholars, and unfortunately, recent history has demonstrated that piecemeal approaches to fixing different programs will not work. We ask for a comprehensive review of the system.
  • Invest in students directly by generously funding programs like Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants and Federal Work-Study, which make higher education a more viable possibility for financially disadvantaged students.
  • Support research educational institutions in their long-term recovery from pandemic impacts and expedite the process by providing low-cost (or no-interest) capital for research universities to return to fiscal stability. Tools might take the form of enhanced Treasury/Federal Reserve lending facilities or restoration of advance refunding. Research universities are short- and long-term economic drivers and, like other domestic anchor industries, need access to low- or zero-cost capital from the federal government.
  • Continue to invest in undergraduate and graduate research and support programs that engage all students, especially those from traditionally underrepresented populations, in meaningful basic and applied research opportunities.
  • Support increased access and talent development through robust funding for TRIO and GEAR UP programs as well as programs funded by NSF and NIH designed to increase pathways for students who have historically been underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degree programs.
  • Reinvest in and strengthen Title VI and Fulbright-Hays, as they are the federal government’s most comprehensive international education programs. Graduates of these programs are essential to our diplomatic, defense, commercial and educational interests as well as many other areas of society.

The UW’s Population Health Initiative


  • 25% of all UW undergraduates were eligible for Pell grants as of fall 2019. At UW Bothell and UW Tacoma, 33% and 45% (respectively) were eligible.
  • 32% of undergraduates are eligible for the Husky Promise, which covers tuition and fees for WA students with financial need.

While today’s global challenges are monumental and those of the future unpredictable, the UW remains committed to defying the odds and conventional thinking to solve the problems of today and tomorrow. One area that exemplifies the UW’s unique approach to problem-solving is our 25-year Population Health Initiative. The initiative seeks to address the intersecting factors that influence the health and well-being of our planet and our global population. In classrooms, clinics and communities, the initiative takes a holistic approach by bringing together students and faculty from many disciplines to improve human health, sustain our environment and promote social and economic equity.


New research led by the UW finds that sleep problems in a baby’s first 12 months may not only precede an autism diagnosis, but also be associated with altered growth trajectory in the hippocampus, a key part of the brain. (This research was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.) Read story

The initiative’s efforts are directed toward diverse yet interconnected challenges. UW researchers are analyzing challenges around community resilience to extreme nature events caused by climate change; addressing systemic food and water insecurities; reducing the rate, burden and racial disproportionality of disease; and improving health in our rapidly changing world.

Our focus on the health and well-being of our whole population has never been more obvious than in the UW’s and UW Medicine’s efforts throughout the pandemic. Seattle was our nation’s first COVID-19 epicenter, and without the committed medical professionals, researchers and staff across the UW immediately mobilizing to educate, treat and search for cures, our region and country would not have been as prepared or able to address the pandemic. Across the UW, the Husky family has risen to the challenge, from facing hard times to righting wrongs and helping to solve problems. The examples are numerous, including, but not limited to:

  • UW researchers and alums engineering and creating new and mass quantities of PPE
  • The UW School of Public Health partnering with the state to reduce health-care barriers for those who are older, have medical conditions or are not fluent in English
  • The UW College of Education researching the impact of COVID-19 on schools, students, families and teachers
  • UW Medicine producing its own COVID-19 tests to make up for the national shortage and then addressing the subsequent challenge of processing them, which they were able to do as an outpouring of UW scientists stepped up to help — from lab techs to postdocs to graduate students

Every day, we find tremendous hope in how the UW community pulls together to listen, learn, take action and improve the world. Together we are ready for whatever tomorrow might bring.


Students, faculty and staff across our three campuses are working hard to advance the values of diversity, equity and inclusion at the UW. Learn more

The UW’s Race & Equity Initiative

At the UW, we are unwavering in our resolve to create an inclusive, equitable and welcoming community for all. Diversity, in all its forms, is critical to advance our understanding of the world and to discover solutions that better serve society. We believe in leading by example, and the UW is putting great effort into changing our culture by recognizing overt biases and microaggressions and fostering a safe environment to report and address inappropriate or offensive behavior. These changes benefit the entire UW community. We are proud of our diversity, and we strive to create a safe and respectful place to discover, challenge the status quo and grow intellectually.

Our commitment to inclusion is not limited by borders. The nation’s ability to remain competitive and innovative is dependent on our ability to attract the best minds, regardless of origin. At the same time, the renowned excellence of American higher education is not possible without a healthy and welcoming environment for all students and scholars. The ability to innovate and remain competitive and the unparalleled quality of American higher education are inextricably linked. Access to and sharing of ideas is fundamental to the fabric of progress.


  • 73% of UW undergrads are WA residents; all 39 WA counties are represented in the student body.
  • Most alumni live and work in WA; 86.7% of UW Tacoma alumni and 88.5% of UW Bothell alumni live and work in WA.

For the UW to ensure excellence and become even more innovative, it is imperative that Congress take steps to maintain the free flow of ideas, whether through robust Title VI International Education funding or by funding proven access programs like GEAR UP and TRIO. Just as importantly, we have seen over the past several years that a comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system is long overdue, as too many talented individuals, including DACA-eligible individuals, have been caught up in the current set of piecemeal rules and regulations.

Our nation needs strong H-1B visa and Optional Practical Training programs and to establish a permanent legal fix for DACA-eligible individuals and their families. As a global university, we recognize our ability to bring ideas together, bridge differences and create a more prosperous future for all.

Stories of impact

Read about the people, places and programs that drive the University of Washington’s faculty, staff and students to work for a world of good.

Medical worker wearing mask

90 days on the front line

How UW Medicine led the response to the nation’s first COVID-19 outbreak.

Read story


Evans School interim dean receives $2M NSF grant to study ‘megafires’

The project is expected to inform future land use and management decisions as well as fire-suppression policies.

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UW researcher

Nanoparticle derived from shrimp could safely deliver cancer treatment to tumors

UW scientists achieved a nanoparticle-based drug delivery system that can ferry a potent anti-cancer drug through the bloodstream safely.

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Hoh Rain Forest

Study: Military flights biggest cause of noise pollution on Olympic Peninsula

Researchers found that aircraft were audible at least 20% of weekday hours, or for about one hour during a six-hour period and about 88% of all audible aircraft were military planes.

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Rachel Carson research vessel

UW selected to host NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean and Ecosystem Studies

The new regional consortium will include faculty and staff at the UW, the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Oregon State University.

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Computer screen with lines of code

UW awarded NIH grant for training in advanced data analytics

The funding was designed to fill educational gaps and needs in the behavioral and social sciences research community that are not being addressed by existing educational opportunities.

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Husky logo

Researchers use lasers and molecular tethers to create perfectly patterned platforms for tissue engineering

Their experiments indicate that this approach could work for almost any type of protein signal and biomaterial system.

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Ice core

NSF-funded deep ice core to be drilled at Hercules Dome, Antarctica

The location is hundreds of miles from today’s coastline and a promising site to provide key evidence about the possible last collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Read story


  • 100,520 jobs created or sustained by the UW.

  • 44% of UW students who have declared science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors are women.

  • 60% of undergraduates graduate with no known debt.

  • The UW’s economic impact in WA state was $15.7 billion in FY2018. Nationally, its economic impact exceeded $24 billion.

  • The UW was rated the No. 1 public university in the country that “pays off the most” by CNBC.

  • More than 3,000 UW alumni have volunteered in the Peace Corps — the third-highest rate in the U.S.

  • UW Bothell generates $341.8 million in economic impact annually.

  • 41% of UW Bothell students and 60% of UW Tacoma students are the first in their families to attain a bachelor’s degree.

  • UW Tacoma generates $313.5 million in economic impact annually.

  • 17% of UW Tacoma students are military affiliated, and 10% are eligible for veterans’ benefits.


Office of Federal Relations

444 North Capitol St. NW
Suite 418
Washington, DC 20001

Sarah Castro


Sang Han

Deputy Director

Gabriel Kornas

Federal Relations Associate