Total Research and Sponsored Programs Activity Exceeded $630M in FY 2009

"The UA received more than 6,000 awards in 2009. "

Research at the University of Arizona is helping find cures for disease, enhancing border security, exploring deep space, training the workforce of the future, improving the quality of education and providing other benefits for the citizens of Arizona.

Funding in fiscal year 2009 included a record $565 million in research expenditures reported to the National Science Foundation, which places particular emphasis on science and engineering. When UA research in other disciplines, public outreach and instructional grants are included, the total value of the University's research and sponsored programs activity exceeded $630 million.

In spite of a global economic downturn and more than $100 million in state budget cuts, UA faculty continue to successfully land grants to fund research and public outreach initiatives.

“These totals are a triumph for the UA. Despite current economic conditions, our faculty have brought home more research grants than ever before,” said UA President Robert N. Shelton. “Our job now is to convert those dollars into economic activity, research-based improvements in the human condition and a unique learning environment for our students.”

Shelton cautioned that record research dollars coming in to the UA cannot take the place of critical funding the UA receives in the form of state appropriations and tuition receipts.

“Research dollars must be spent on the research projects they were intended to fund,” Shelton said. “There is no substitute for state appropriations and tuition support of the UA. In fact, were it not for our state support, we would have no hope of attracting more than $600 million in research and public service dollars to the Arizona economy.”

“Total grants, contracts and gift awards have increased more than 7 percent each year for the last two years and research awards increased nearly 10 percent over the previous year,” said Leslie Tolbert, UA vice president for research, graduate studies and economic development. “It’s a testament to the ingenuity of our faculty, who compete so successfully for research funding.”

The research projects span every area within the University – science, medicine, social sciences, humanities, business and other disciplines. They produce new knowledge, create jobs and provide students practical experience within their fields of study.

The UA department of pediatrics was awarded a $44 million, six-year contract to participate in the National Institutes of Health’s National Children’s Study.

The study – the largest of its kind in the nation – is a major effort to investigate the interaction of genes and the environment on children’s health.

The National Children’s Study will follow a representative national sample of 100,000 children from before birth to age 21 and will investigate factors influencing the development of such conditions as autism, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, birth defects, diabetes, asthma and obesity.

Through a grant issued by First Things First, Arizona’s three state universities have joined together in one of the most significant early childhood longitudinal studies being conducted in the United States today.

The mission of First Things First – established in 2006 when Arizona voters passed Proposition 203 – is to increase the quality of, and access to, an early childhood development and health system that ensures a child entering school comes healthy and ready to succeed.

The $27-million, 5-year study includes representatives of Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona in fields such as early childhood, educational psychology, medical and community health and anthropology.

The consortium will examine how improvements in access to and quality of educational and health services impact the development of young children. The project involves two studies: a readiness study that will represent a “snapshot” of 1,200 kindergartners over the course of five years; and, a cohort study that will follow more than 8,500 children as they grow over a period of five years, with data collected at various intervals. Both projects will include developmental assessments of the children, health measures of the children and interviews with parents and teachers.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security awarded the UA a six-year, $16 million grant to the UA to establish the National Center for Border Security and Immigration.

The center is conducing research on border risk management, population dynamics, immigration policy, policy, law enforcement, international governance and related legal issues.

A total of eight projects are overseen by the center, segmented into the following categories: 

  • Detection – Humans, vehicles and decision support 
  • Networks – Interoperability and reliability 
  • Fusion – Tools and approaches 
  • Risk – Mitigation, assessment and management 
  • Population – Methods, metrics and estimates 
  • Immigration – Economics and policies 
  • Governance – Law enforcement and international cooperation 
  • Law – Civil liberties and rights

Science Foundation Arizona and several mining industry partners agreed to collaborate on a multi-million dollar initiative with the UA to create the Lowell Institute of Mineral Resources, a partnership that will position the state to become a world leader in all aspects of mineral resource development.

The work of the institute will provide greater economic and educational opportunities throughout Arizona, and will continue to advance the industry's best practices in mining, safety and environmental stewardship. It will further maximize and build on all of the important efforts already under way by the industry partners through a truly collaborative effort.

The UA received more than 6,000 awards in 2009.

Annually, the National Science Foundation ranks the UA among the nation’s best public universities as it relates to research expenditures in science and engineering.

Leslie Tolbert (520-621-3513;