UMass research funding reaches record

By D.C. Denison
Globe Staff / February 10, 2011

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The University of Massachusetts received a record amount of funding for research in fiscal year 2010, taking in $536 million, according to preliminary figures.

That was an increase of $47 million, or 9.5 percent, over the previous year. Most of the money was in the form of federal grants from the National Institutes for Health, the National Science Foundation, and other agencies.

UMass president Jack M. Wilson, who will be retiring at the end of this academic year, said the increased funding is attributable to a long-term strategy at the university to grow as a center for research. “More research means improved skills for our students and more economic growth for the state,’’ he said.

All five UMass campuses shared the funding, although the bulk of the money went to the Amherst campus and UMass Medical School in Worcester. The medical school received $232 million; Amherst got $169 million.

The final numbers, which apply to the period from July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2010, will be presented this month to the National Science Foundation, which will include the data in its annual survey of research expenditures.

Last year, the foundation survey, which ranked each UMass campus individually, listed UMass Medical School as 90th in the nation.

By comparison, MIT ranked 11th, with $736 million in funding, and Harvard University was 33d, with $462 in funding. Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, was ranked number one, with nearly $1.9 billion in funding.

Major research expenditures at UMass in fiscal year 2010 included a five-year $16.8 million grant to the Institute for Community Inclusion at UMass Boston from the Department of Education. The grant, the largest in UMass Boston history, will be used to create an employment services package for those with disabilities; partner with state vocational rehabilitation agencies to implement; and then, study impact, costs, and customer experiences.

Two-thirds of the funded research at UMass is in the life sciences. For example, the 2010 funding totals include a $12 million grant to the medical school from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to improve joint replacement surgery. The funding will go to establish a nationwide registry of 33,000 patients who have had total joint replacements, which will help assess the success and failure of the surgery.

UMass is now the eighth-ranked university in the nation in terms of income derived from the commercial licensing of faculty discoveries and products. According to the Association of University Technology Managers, annual intellectual property income at UMass rose from $20 million in fiscal year 2003 to $71 million during fiscal year 2009.

D.C. Denison can be reached at