29 Jul Stimulus funds begin to bolster UW-Madison research portfolio
MADISON – The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s nearly $840 million research portfolio, one of the top three in the country, will become even larger as federal agencies begin to dole out new stimulus grants.
Already, 90 awards totaling more than $26.5 million have been made to UW-Madison faculty under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Wisconsin projects ranging from stem cell research and new genetic models for cancer to Antarctic weather stations and bioenergy have been funded by the various federal agencies disbursing stimulus funds.
“The stimulus funds are going to provide a much-needed shot in the arm for UW-Madison research across the board,” says UW-Madison Provost Paul M. DeLuca, who, as associate dean for research in the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, played a role in securing stimulus funding for several key biomedical initiatives. “These funds will help us expand the margins of knowledge, of course, but they also represent a new source of support for our research infrastructure, which leads to well-paying jobs in our community.”
The flow of stimulus money to the UW-Madison campus is only likely to accelerate as federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation complete the process of vetting thousands of proposals, according to Kim Moreland, director of UW-Madison’s office of Research and Sponsored Programs.
“It’s very slow trickling in,” says Moreland, whose office is responsible for processing grant proposals and managing awards.
A total of 705 proposals totaling more than $421 million were made by UW-Madison faculty to nine different federal agencies or associated entities under very tight deadlines and additional reporting requirements. At least 12 more awards totaling an additional $6.1 million are in the process of being set up.
“This is tremendous work by our faculty. It is a measure of their caliber,” says Moreland.
The stimulus funds – to be allotted over a shorter time frame than typical awards and gilded with significant additional requirements for reporting and oversight – represent a welcome boost for researchers as budgets at federal agencies such as NIH have remained flat for several years. Many of the stimulus proposals that have been funded or are under consideration are projects that scored well but were unfunded in previous grant competitions.
One such project in the lab of UW-Madison cancer researcher Michael Gould will help fund the development of new animal models for breast cancer. “This specific project is a continuing one that studies the genetic components of breast cancer using model systems,” Gould says of a four-year project, the first two years of which will be supported by stimulus funds. “This (original) grant submission just missed the standard percentile cutoff, but the stimulus funding allowed us to rapidly progress on this ongoing project instead of losing at least another nine months.”
Research grants awarded to academic scientists pay for salaries of researchers, technicians and student workers, in addition to supplies and equipment.