Funding advances research and public service, engages rural communities, and supports early-career faculty
Wednesday, July 12, 2023

The University of Iowa secured $704.1 million in external funding for fiscal year 2023, including $561.3 million in funds to support leading-edge research, public service, and creative discovery. Federal research funding to the UI increased 16.5% over last year.

These funds to the UI support a range of activities that advance the pace of research and discovery, engage students in transformational experiences, and benefit citizens of Iowa, the nation, and the world.

“Expenditures for research and public service also serve as a notable economic driver within our state, supporting highly-skilled jobs and allowing the institution to recruit and retain top-notch faculty,” says Marty Scholtz, vice president for research.

Federal research funding to the UI is trending up overall, with a significant uptick in funding from NASA. UI researchers and scholars secured more than $363 million in federal funding in FY23, a 16.5% increase over FY22’s total of $311 million. Funding from NASA exceeded $75 million in FY23, more than doubling the FY22 total of $35 million. The fiscal year ended on June 30, 2023.

“This level of federal funding, secured by Iowa faculty through a highly-competitive review process, is a robust indicator that the University of Iowa is a leading research institution,” says Scholtz. Federal research funding serves as a leading metric for R1 institutions and is a key membership criterion for the Association of American Universities.

A record number of young investigators secured highly-competitive, prestigious awards from various federal agencies to advance high-impact research programs in FY23. Included were four researchers from the College of Engineering and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who received CAREER awards, the most prestigious awards in support of early-career scholars available from the National Science Foundation. This ties a record number of CAREER awards for UI in one year.

“We are proud of the hard work of the early-career scholars who are establishing a strong foundation to make significant contributions to their areas of study, which could have long-term effects not only in their fields, but ripple effects in industry and society,” says Scholtz.

Faculty engagement with businesses and corporate entities is strong in FY23. Funding exceeded $127 million this fiscal year, a significant uptick over the last five fiscal years.

 “Although total external funding is down slightly over last fiscal year, which is due in part to a decrease in federal stimulus and COVID aid, the overall trajectory of external funding activity has trended up over the last decade,” says Scholtz. “We are particularly proud of the increase in federal funding, which supports a number of noteworthy Iowa-focused projects that will benefit patients across the state and train a highly-skilled workforce.”

Rural connections

Researchers from the UI will collaborate with Iowa State University, the University of Northern Iowa, Central College, and Dordt University on a new statewide, $20 million initiative to make Iowa a national leader in biomanufacturing through research collaborations and workforce development.

An ultimate goal of the project is to advance the production of bio-derived materials, or products made from living things such as plants and other renewable agricultural materials.

“Given our rich history and strength in agriculture, the state of Iowa is well-prepared to lead our nation in the area of advanced biomanufacturing, with this award serving as a catalyst,” says Kristan Worthington, assistant professor of biomedical engineering. Together, the institutions will recruit students from rural Iowa communities to join a Rural Scholars Program to prepare them for future career paths in biotechnology.

In addition, the Institute for Clinical and Translational Science has also received a seven-year, $28 million Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health. The grant is focused on extending the reach and benefit of research into communities across Iowa by fostering collaboration between UI and the state. 

The project will foster strong partnerships between academic medicine and patients and providers in rural communities. These connections can help overcome geographical barriers and address rural health disparities to improve the well-being of people who live in rural areas.