Over the last 6 months, the University of Rochester received $34.5 million in awards from research programs funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). These grants fund a broad array of scientific programs and to date have supported 116 jobs at the University.
"The Obama Administration and the U.S. Congress demonstrated considerable foresight in allocating stimulus dollars to research and development," said Joel Seligman, president of the University of Rochester. "These funds will not only provide immediate economic relief by creating and saving jobs in this difficult economic environment, they also represent a critical investment in our nation's economic future growth by investing in scientific innovation."
Through September 30, the University of Rochester received 131 awards for a total of $34.5 million in funding. These funds support research projects in medicine, engineering, optics, astronomy, chemistry, linguistics, and physics.
A provision in the law requires that institutions receiving ARRA support report back to the federal government on a quarterly basis the number of jobs that were created or retained as a result of the funding. The first report was due to the federal government on October 10.
Since May, a total of 116 University of Rochester employees had their salaries paid for, in whole or in part, with ARRA-related funds. Research labs are typically engaged in multiple projects simultaneously, many of which are supported by separate research grants. Hence, faculty and lab employees' salaries are often paid out of different research accounts. When ARRA-related activity is consolidated to reflect full-time-equivalent positions, the awards fully funded the equivalent of 35 jobs through the end of September.
These job numbers do not include projects that received funding toward the end of the reporting period and may not yet have made payroll expenditures. Additionally, many of these awards support multi-year research projects so the total job impact will be stretched out over several years.
University officials stress that these funds continue to flow to the institution with new awards announced on a weekly basis. The research grants from agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation are awarded on a programmatic basis, meaning that scientists and institutions compete for various pools of federal research dollars. Applications are peer reviewed and funds awarded as decisions are made on individual research priorities established by the agencies and Congress. In total, these agencies have $22 billion in stimulus-related research and development funds that they are required to allocate by next October.
"We believe that our scientists will be highly competitive for these research dollars," said Ralph Kuncl, provost of the University of Rochester. "The nature of the peer review process is that the best science rises to the top and we believe that over the next year we will see a considerable influx in stimulus-related research funding to the University and that the impact of those funds, both in terms of jobs and new discoveries, will be significant."
Examples of University of Rochester projects supported by ARRA research funds include: the development of a material that will increase the performance of hydrogen fuel cells, efforts to understand the molecular origins of Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases, the development of customized contact lenses for individuals with abnormal corneal conditions, the commercial application of novel shape memory polymers, and efforts to both understand behaviors that promote the spread of HIV and develop a new vaccine to inhibit the viruses transmission. The University has also received non-research awards, including funding to support education programs at the Memorial Art Gallery.
The University of Rochester will provide periodic updates on ARRA-related activity at www.rochester.edu/news/arra, including information on total funding, awards, job impact, and profiles of individual research projects.