spending at the University of Michigan in 2008-09 exceeded $1 billion
for the first time, a milestone that highlights the university's role
as an economic resource benefitting the entire state.
In the midst of the most severe recession since the Great
Depression, research spending at the university rose 9.4 percent over
the previous fiscal year, totaling $1.02 billion. The federal
government provided 64.4 percent of the funds, and federal research
spending at the UM rose 7.1 percent over 2007-08.
"It's an enormous milestone, and the fact that it's happening in the
midst of this recession is all the more important," said UM Vice
President for Research Stephen Forrest. "We're growing stronger at a
time when this region needs us most. This university is providing the
ideas that will create new businesses in our state, as well as the
skilled workforce needed for the new industries that will rebuild and
transform Michigan's economy."
Over the last five years, the university has launched 49 startups.
More than 70 percent of those new businesses are located in Michigan.
In fiscal year 2009, which ended June 30, UM researchers disclosed 350
new discoveries, said Ken Nisbet, director of the UM Office of
"The continued growth of our world-class research program leads to
life-changing discoveries that benefit the general public," Nisbet
said. "Working with our business and entrepreneurial partners, we'll
continue to grow much-needed jobs for our state."
Despite the recession, research funding from the university's
industry partners rose 1 percent last fiscal year to $43.3 million,
"truly a remarkable accomplishment, given the circumstances," according
About $130,000 of the $1.02 billion came from federal
stimulus-package awards. UM researchers have been awarded more than $90
million in stimulus grants so far, but the bulk of those funds will be
spent in the current and next fiscal years.
Stimulus awards will boost the UM research effort in the current
fiscal year, but a slowdown in federal research funding is expected to
follow, Forrest said. To maintain vigorous growth in the future, the
university will rely increasingly on research to be conducted at the
North Campus Research Complex, the 30-building, 174-acre former Pfizer
pharmaceutical research facility purchased in June.
"I think we can maintain a very significant growth rate -- beyond
many of our competitors -- if we use the interdisciplinary
possibilities that are opened up through the use of the NCRC," Forrest
The UM consistently ranks among the nation's top five research
universities, based on research and development expenditure statistics
compiled by the National Science Foundation. Johns Hopkins University
passed the $1 billion milestone several years ago, and Forrest said he
expects "a couple of other universities" to exceed $1 billion for FY
The National Institutes of Health provides more research funds to
the university than any other federal agency. In FY 2009, NIH spending
rose 7.2 percent to $421.5 million, accounting for 41.5 percent of the
UM's total research expenditures. Some of the larger NIH grants to the
UM Medical School are funding studies of new anti-cancer drugs, brain
tumors, heart disease, prostate cancer, neuropsychiatric disorders,
Alzheimer's disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, hearing loss, and
infant heart transplants.
Among other federal agencies, National Science Foundation spending
rose 3.8 percent to $67.3 million in FY 2009; Department of Defense
funding increased 8.4 percent to $64.4 million; and Department of
Energy funding grew 24.4 percent to $21.7 million.
"The quality of the faculty we have here, along with the depth and
breadth of the expertise at this university, are the two main reasons
we continue to do so well" at garnering federal research funds, said
Dennis Cebulski, assistant director of the UM Division of Research
Development and Administration.
Cebulski noted that the FY 2009 numbers include an accounting change
that adds $44.2 million to the UM research-spending total. For the
first time, research funds from a UM physician's group called the
University of Michigan Faculty Group Practice were included in the
FY 2008 research-expenditure numbers were revised to include $53
million from Faculty Group Practice funds as well. The revised
research-spending total for FY 2008 is $929 million.
Spending of research funds provided by the state of Michigan and
local Michigan authorities declined 10.6 percent to $4.6 million.