Irvine, Calif., Aug. 1, 2023 — From cutting-edge research on Alzheimer’s disease to an innovative effort to include environmental justice and community engagement in climate and sustainability science research and education, University of California, Irvine scholars, scientists and physicians are blazing new paths to help change the world. And their impact keeps growing. In fiscal 2022-23, which ended June 30, UCI received the most research funding in campus history: $653 million in grants and contracts.
Awards from federal and state agencies, leading foundations and forward-thinking companies rose by 12.7 percent over the 2021-22 total of $580 million, reflecting strong support for UCI’s top-ranked faculty, first-rate facilities, diverse and talented student body, and community-based research programs.
“This research funding milestone confirms UCI’s increasing role as a world-class research university. The UCI community continues to make a meaningful impact on regional economic development and to improve society through globally prominent research,” said UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman.
“Our faculty, students and staff are truly excelling in an environment of tremendous national competition for financial support of research and innovation,” said Pramod Khargonekar, UCI vice chancellor for research. “This outstanding and sustained growth indicates that UCI’s preeminent research enterprise will make even greater and more productive contributions to the state, the nation and the world.”
UCI investigators received 1,002 new awards, totaling nearly $380 million (58 percent of the entire campus amount, with the remainder coming from renewed funding sources) in fiscal 2022-23. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which encompasses the National Institutes of Health, was the largest single source of research funding at UCI, accounting for $226 million. The National Science Foundation provided $54 million. And grants and contracts from philanthropic foundations, charitable trusts and for-profit organizations reached $231 million. Overall, half of the research support came from nonfederal entities.
Promoting new cures
Also continuing to increase was total financial backing for clinical research in all health science areas to advance new treatments for life-altering diseases. In 2022-23, UCI received $150 million in grant and corporate funding from all sources for clinical trials, a 37 percent jump over the previous year. Within this amount, overall industry support for campus research topped $129 million.
One thriving research area is UCI’s Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center – the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center based in Orange County. Its researchers brought in $106 million for basic, translational and clinical studies in fiscal 2022-23, 28 percent more than last year.
The following are clinical trials with top contracts:
- With $6.8 million from Amgen, Dr. Deepa Jeyakumar, associate clinical professor of hematology/oncology, is undertaking a Phase 3 study of an immunotherapy treatment for older adults with lymphoblastic leukemia.
- With $5 million from Revolution Medicines Inc., Dr. Sai-Hong Ou, clinical professor of hematology/oncology, is leading UCI Health’s participation in a Phase 1/1b clinical trial to find the highest dose of the investigational drug RMC-6291 that can be given safely to people with advanced solid tumors.
“As the region’s only academic health system, we are able to provide unequaled patient care backed by groundbreaking research for new cures, therapies and prevention,” said Dr. Steve Goldstein, vice chancellor for health affairs. “Year-over-year growth in external funding underscores how we are leading the way through world-changing discoveries while training the diverse, interprofessional healthcare workforce of the future.”
Other noteworthy new research awards and recipients in fiscal 2022-23 were:
- UCI MIND researchers got a five-year, $47 million National Institute on Aging grant to develop the next generation of mouse models for studying late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. By inserting human genetic data into the models, researchers can better understand the biology that leads to Alzheimer’s and set the stage for preclinical drug testing.
- UCI biomedical researchers led by Xiangmin Xu, professor of anatomy & neurobiology and director of the campus’s Center for Neural Circuit Mapping, received a five-year, $10 million grant from the NIH to lead a multi-institutional study of specific brain cell vulnerabilities to abnormal tau protein deposits in regions affected in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
- The U.S. Department of Energy awarded $3.75 million to Vojislav Stamenkovic, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and director of the Horiba Institute for Mobility and Connectivity, for research in clean energy. The award was one of 22 issued by the DOE to advance critical technologies for producing, storing, deploying and utilizing hydrogen in support of President Biden’s goals of a 100 percent clean electrical grid by 2035 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
- A $1.1 million grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative formalized a partnership between the School of Education and the Anaheim Union High School District on a project to help instill a sense of purpose in students as they prepare for their futures.
- Alex Borucki, associate professor of history, was one of 21 investigators receiving a 2023 Multicampus Research Programs and Initiatives award from the University of California. The $840,000 MRPI grant will extend work on the intra-American slave trade database for a period of three years.
- With a five-year, $8 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, UCI earned designation as one of CIRM’s Alpha Clinics. The goal of the statewide network is to accelerate the development of promising stem cell and gene therapies and expand patient access to them through clinical trials approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
- The NSF awarded an interdisciplinary team of UCI researchers $7.5 million for a project integrating environmental justice and community engagement in climate and sustainability science research and education.
About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities and is ranked among the nation’s top 10 public universities by U.S. News & World Report. The campus has produced five 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 224 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 $7 billion annually to the local economy and $8 billion statewide. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.
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