Carol Booth Olson, UCI professor of education
The U.S. Department of Education awarded Carol Booth Olson, UCI professor of education, $14.7 million to expand her Pathway to Academic Success Project. Steve Zylius / UCI

Irvine, Calif., Aug. 6, 2019 — From a project to improve high-needs students’ reading and writing skills to one to better manage the state’s forests and wildlands in the face of climate change, University of California, Irvine researchers are blazing new paths to help change the world. And their impact keeps growing. In fiscal 2018-19, UCI researchers received the most funding in campus history: $441 million in grants and contracts.

UCI receives record $441 million in research funding for fiscal 2018-19 22 percent more than last year. Click to view larger image.

Awards from federal and state agencies, leading foundations and forward-thinking companies increased 22 percent over 2017-18 totals, reflecting strong and burgeoning support for UCI’s top-ranked faculty, first-rate facilities, diverse and talented student body, and community-based programs.

“This research funding milestone signifies progress toward our campus strategic plan goals while accelerating UCI’s ascent among its Association of American Universities peers, having a meaningful impact on regional economic development and making strides to improve society through globally prominent research,” said Enrique Lavernia, UCI provost and executive vice chancellor.

UCI Health experienced the greatest boost in research funding. The School of Medicine garnered $155 million, which accounted for 35 percent of UCI’s 2018-19 total and was 23 percent more than in 2017-18. The Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center brought in $25 million – a 21 percent jump from last year – for research, patient care and clinical trials; and the Institute for Memory Impairments and Neurological Disorders reaped $30 million, a 39 percent increase.

Support from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, which encompasses the National Institutes of Health, the largest single source of research funding at UCI, rose 20 percent over last year to $157 million. The National Science Foundation provided $55 million, 10 percent more than in 2017-18. And private backing from foundations and charitable trusts reached $62 million, a 15 percent hike.

“Our faculty, students and staff are truly excelling in an environment of tremendous competition for financial support for research and innovation,” said Pramod Khargonekar, vice chancellor for research at UCI. “Research is a central mission for us, and these outstanding results indicate that UCI’s world-class research enterprise will continue to make important, productive contributions to the state, the nation and the world.”

Other noteworthy 2018-19 research funding sources and recipients:

  • The School of Education received $27 million, compared to $10 million in 2017-18, highlighted by a $14.7 million Education Innovation & Research expansion grant from the U.S. Department of Education to Carol Booth Olson, professor of education, for the enlargement of her Pathway to Academic Success Project, which helps close reading and writing achievement gaps among high-needs students in grades seven to 11. The school was also awarded $1.115 million by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to establish a national pilot site – called the Next-Generation Undergraduate Success Measurement Project – that will study approaches to increasing understanding of what makes a liberal arts education valuable.
  • Leslie Thompson and Magdalene Seiler of the Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center got $10.3 million in research funding from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. With a $5.6 million grant, Thompson continues to advance stem cell-based therapies for Huntington’s disease, while Seiler, with a $4.7 million grant, will explore methods of generating stem cell-derived retinas to treat eye degeneration diseases.
  • Michael Goulden, professor of Earth system science, is playing a leading role in the creation of the Innovation Center for Advancing Ecosystem Climate Solutions. Supported by $4.6 million from the California Strategic Growth Council, the multi-institutional project will develop new tools and techniques for better managing the state’s forests and wildlands.
  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse awarded Daniele Piomelli, UCI’s Louise Turner Arnold Chair in Neurosciences and director of the campus’s Center for the Study of Cannabis, $2.2 million as part of a four-year, $9 million grant aimed at determining the long-term impact of cannabis exposure on the adolescent brain.

Additional data on UCI’s 2018-19 research funding:

  • 825 new awards were bestowed during the fiscal year.
  • 271 UCI researchers garnered new awards.
  • 2 percent of support came from nonfederal sources.
  • $45 million in grant and corporate funding was received for clinical trials.

For more information, see the Office of Research’s annual report at

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 222 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit

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