University of Michigan spends 2nd most on research at $1.5 billion

ANN ARBOR, MI – The University of Michigan once again spent more on research than any public university in the country during the 2017 fiscal year with a record-breaking $1.48 billion in expenditures, according to UM’s annual research report.

The total volume topped 2016’s $1.39 in research volume expenditures, which also was a record for the university – a 6.4 percent increase in total research volume over the previous year. UM ranked second overall to only Johns Hopkins University among all United States universities in research expenditures. 

Federal government investment in UM’s research accounted for $832 million – 56 percent – of that total, which was a 5 percent increase over the previous year. 

“Industry has benefitted greatly from this investment, tapping the talent of the great majority of graduating students to help translate the ideas and expertise that arise on campus into products, processes, and services that have changed virtually all aspects of our lives,” UM Vice President for Research S. Jack Hu said in the report, noting that industry sponsorship at UM grew by 14 percent to a record-high of more than $106 million.  

Among federal expenditures, $544.7 million (65.5 percent) came from the Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which provided $502 million in 2017, representing a 10 percent increase over the previous year. 

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In 2016, a total of $457 million of the $792 million the university received in federal funding came from the NIH. Funding from the NIH covers a wide range of units at UM, including its Medical School, its colleges Engineering, Pharmacy, Dentistry and Nursing and the Institute for Social Research. 

Despite some uncertainty regarding future federal funding levels of the NIH, UM also received the largest single federal research grant in its Medical School’s history, the university announced in May. 

The $58 million grant from the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) through its Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) provides up to five years of new funding for the Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research (MICHR). 

The second largest federal government sponsor, the National Science Foundation, showed an increase of 7 percent to $92 million during the 2017 fiscal year. 

Research funding provided by UM also increased in 2017 to $485.5 million – a 6.5 percent increase over its $456 million in expenditures in 2016. Of that total, $248.4 million came from UM’s general fund (an 8.9 percent increase over the previous year), while $130.9 million came from medical school resources. UM’s designated fund for internally funded research decreased by 52.5 percent, however, from $68.5 million in 2016 to $32.6 million in 2017. 

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UM’s Medical School spent the most of any unit on campus on research during the 2017 fiscal year, accounting for 41 percent of its total expenditures, followed by the College of Engineering (17 percent) and the College of Literature, Arts & Sciences (13 percent). 

The research also has translated into marketplace, Hu noted, with UM’s Office of Technology Transfer reporting a record-high 444 new inventions and 172 U.S. patents issued in 2017.

“We have also been successful in generating new ideas with commercial potential and encouraging their application,” Hu said in the report. “In addition, we continued a decade-long trend of launching an average of one new company a month based on technologies developed at UM.”

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