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University of Colorado Faculty Garner $1.6 Billion in Sponsored Research Funding and Gifts

CU Anschutz nets $867 million of record-high amount

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Written by Staff on November 2, 2023

University of Colorado faculty this year garnered $1.6 billion in sponsored research funding and gifts supporting research, a 9% increase over the previous year and the highest such total in CU history.

The investment in research endeavors at CU’s four campuses drives wide-ranging discovery and impact across Colorado, the nation and the world. This figure from the 2022-23 fiscal year is the seventh consecutive annual total to top the $1 billion mark.

“The research happening at CU campuses is making a real impact on society. The generous funding we receive reflects the high regard for our dedicated faculty and their research priorities,” said CU President Todd Saliman. “Our exceptional faculty and students are committed to tackling the critical challenges our world faces, and year after year, we’re thrilled to celebrate the incredible discoveries and innovations that come out of our community.”

The overall total is fueled by $1.4 billion in research awards, a 4% increase over the previous year. Most comes from federal agencies, which accounted for $898.7 million. Top federal sponsors of CU research include Health and Human Services, NASA, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Commerce and the Department of Defense. Non-federal awards totaled $506.9 million.

Gifts toward research via the CU Foundation totaled $191.6 million, up 65% over the previous year.

University research enhances quality of life

Following are the 2022-23 totals in sponsored research funding and gifts supporting research at each of the four CU campuses, as well as examples of the ways the university advances knowledge, inspires innovation, fosters creativity and improves the quality of life for Coloradans:

University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus: $867 million.

The University of Colorado Cancer Center is on the cutting edge of advancing groundbreaking new therapies to treat cancer. Collectively, CU Anschutz investigators were awarded more than $70 million in grants and gifts supporting cancer research during the 2022-23 fiscal year. This includes $4.1 million in funding from the National Cancer Institute in support of the Cancer Center’s comprehensive designation, a prestigious multi-year award that recognizes strengths in basic, translational, clinical and population science research. In addition, a generous $20 million philanthropic gift established the new Katy O. and Paul M. Rady Esophageal and Gastric Center of Excellence to accelerate cancer breakthroughs that will improve health outcomes for patients worldwide.

University of Colorado Boulder: $684.2 million.

For the seventh time, NASA has selected the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at CU Boulder for the management and operations of the Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) Snow and Ice Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC). Under the $68 million contract, the NSIDC DAAC will continue to provide data management services focused on preserving, documenting, and providing access to cryospheric data and related geophysical data. In addition, quantum science and technology is widely seen as a transformational opportunity – globally, nationally and for Colorado. A $1.2 million grant awarded to CUbit Quantum Initiative by the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade (OEDIT) is a catalyst for realizing the potential of Colorado’s “quantum ecosystem.”

University of Colorado Denver: $28.8 million.

More than 9 million children attend schools in rural communities, where the national teacher shortage is even more acute. The U.S. Department of Education awarded CU Denver a $6.78 million grant to launch NxtGen Colorado: Grow Your Own Approach to Preparing Teachers for Rural Colorado. The collaboration with rural school districts and community colleges aims to help prep candidates and keep them in their communities. This program builds from the success of the NxtGEN program, which CU Denver and Denver Public Schools designed in 2014. NxtGEN is one of eight teacher-education programs in the nation recognized for its innovative way of addressing the teacher shortage and increasing the number of diverse teachers prepared for today’s classrooms.  

University of Colorado Colorado Springs: $17.1 million.

Jena McCollum, director of the Advanced Manufacturing Lab and associate professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in the UCCS College of Engineering and Applied Science, received a National Science Foundation CAREER award for her research project “Microstructural Engineering of Solid Composite Electrolytes through Process Manipulation.” The five-year, $500,000 award will support graduate research and expanded undergraduate training and support to facilitate research experiences. McCollum’s research focuses on structural batteries, which are batteries that double as structural components. Her research will assist in understanding the mechanisms behind how a structural battery’s performance changes when loaded or stressed. The work will have implications for the energy sector and allow new research toward better energy storage options.

Faculty's work stimulates big industry

Sponsored research funding from federal, state, international and foundation entities targets specific projects to advance research in laboratories and in the field. Research funding also helps pay for research-related capital improvements, scientific equipment, travel and salaries for research and support staff and student assistantships. CU cannot divert this funding to non-research-related expenses.

A significant amount of sponsored research funding is directed to departments and researchers with unique expertise, such as biotechnology and aerospace, which stimulates industry.