Thursday, October 2, 2003

UC research grants: $309M

Economic engine

University of Cincinnati's surge to $309 million in research funding in the past year should boost its rankings among major research universities. That's a $49 million jump, from $260 million in 2002. Average gain nationwide was 8 percent; UC, including affiliates such as Children's Hospital, posted an 18.6 percent gain. UC's grants show it is achieving the critical mass to be a major player, particularly in National Institutes of Health funding.

Great regions are driven by such economic engines as major airports, innovative companies and great research universities. Greater Cincinnati has a huge interest in seeing that University of Cincinnati and its affiliates continue to grow as powerful interlinked research centers.

Federal grants from NIH, Department of Defense, Environmental Protection Agency, NASA and others account for 85 percent of UC's external funding. Ohio gave a $9 million, two-year grant in Third Frontier money to the new Reading-based Genomics Research Institute, a UC collaboration with Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals, Children's Hospital Research Foundation, Wright State University, Acero Inc. and Wright Patterson Air Force Base.

As many as 60,000 people work in the Uptown UC-hospital area. The UC Medical Center and its research affiliates are one of this region's largest employers, with about 15,000 jobs. "As our research enterprise grows, the overall economy of the region will grow as well," said Dr. Jane Henney, UC's new health affairs provost.

UC benefits in multiple ways from top talent professors, a bigger graduate school and medical school along with patent royalties, but research also can spin off new products, new health care therapies and even new companies. In 2003, UC generated 86 invention disclosures, 25 patents filed and nine patents issued. Three of them were issued to CardioEnergetics, a company recently spun off from UC. The vision driving Cincinnati's biotech strategy is that one or several start-ups could grow into major employers and stay headquartered here.

Research universities expect tighter NIH research budgets next year. UC's challenge will be to keep the research grants growing and keep adding innovative research teams.

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