Climbing to tier one: UTSA reports 34 percent increase in research spending

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(Nov. 5, 2009)--The University of Texas at San Antonio released its newest research numbers today, reporting a 34 percent increase to $46,521,487 in total research spending for the Sept. 1, 2008-Aug. 31, 2009 fiscal year (FY 2009) over the previous fiscal year, when research spending totaled $34,601,444. Research spending is up 97 percent from just five years ago, when UTSA's total research expenditures were $23,605,844.

Additionally, UTSA reported $67,427,457 in total research and non-research spending (total sponsored programs expenditures) for FY 2009. This represents a 30-percent increase in total sponsored programs expenditures over the last fiscal year and a 71-percent increase over the last five fiscal years, when the totals were $51,869,574 and $39,463,871, respectively.

"As we build a tier-one university for a tier-one city, the success of our research program is critical," said UTSA President Ricardo Romo. "We will continue to focus on our academic and research strengths in health, security, energy, sustainability, and human and social development by recruiting top faculty and students, growing our graduate programs and strengthening our research collaborations within the United States and abroad."

"To say we've almost doubled our research activities in the past five years is really significant," said Robert Gracy, UTSA vice president for research. "Today, we are certainly on an upward trajectory to tier one status. We have developed a stronghold of collaborative research partners in the region and our recruitment of top faculty will certainly lead to even larger increases in research expenditures in the coming year as those individuals gain traction at UTSA."

Last year was particularly strong for UTSA research for a variety of reasons. The College of Sciences, College of Engineering, College of Education and Human Development and College of Liberal and Fine Arts were the top four contributors in overall research dollars. The colleges house most of UTSA's campus-based research centers and institutes.

Notably, UTSA biology researchers Bernard Arulanandam and Ashlesh Murthy in the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, in collaboration with Guangming Zhong at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, developed an agreement with Merck and Co Inc. to develop a chlamydia vaccine. The revenue-producing license was UTSA's first.

Additionally, UTSA began receiving funding from a variety of new sources last year including the San Antonio Life Sciences Institute, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and multiple contracts with international partners. The university also began to focus on the development and commercialization of new marketable technologies developed by faculty and students. By Aug. 31, 2009, UTSA's invention disclosures increased 244 percent and its provisional patent applications increased 400 percent over the prior year.

In related news, UTSA is expected to receive more than $1.4 million in Texas Research Incentive Program (TRIP) funding this fiscal year, the first of two payments totaling $3,850,000 that UTSA earned in matching funds from the State of Texas. The matching funds are based on a monetary incentive tied to private gifts that were received by the university before Sept. 1. Established in May 2009 by House Bill 51 of the 81st Texas Legislature, TRIP is one of three initiatives that supports the growth of Texas' emerging research universities. House Bill 51 also established the Research University Development Fund and the National University Research Fund to promote higher education in Texas.

In the coming fiscal year, UTSA expects to spend $75 million in sponsored programs including $50 million in research. Sources for the projections include:

  • Funding to be received by newly hired faculty
  • Construction of a new research building
  • Additional funding from the San Antonio Life Sciences Institute and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
  • Partnerships with strategic collaborators such as the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Southwest Research Institute, Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research and the military
  • New funding from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, a $3 billion, 10-year funding opportunity for cancer researchers in Texas
  • Increased research activity by UTSA research centers and institutes
  • Addition of new senior leadership

 

Five-year growth of UTSA research and non-research sponsored programs

FY 2005

FY 2006

FY 2007

FY 2008

FY 2009

1-yr. Chg

5-yr. Chg

Total Research Expenditures

23,605,844

32,316,849

32,320,710

34,301,444

46,521,487

34%

97%

Non-Research Expenditures

15,858,026

17,462,478

15,875,328

17,268,129

20,905,970

21%

32%

Total Expenditures

39,463,871

49,779,327

48,196,039

51,869,574

67,427,457

30%

71%