More than $10 billion has been added to the National Institutes of Health budget and $3 billion has been added to the National Science Foundation budget through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and UAB is positioned to vie for as much as $100 million during the next two years.
Richard Marchase, vice president for Research and Eco-nomic Develop-ment, said new and expanded resources are being made available to inform UAB researchers of opportunities for these new grant funds.
“UAB’s historical share of the NIH budget is slightly less than 1 percent,” said Marchase. “If that remains true, we hope to be successful in acquiring about $3 million for new equipment, $10 million for new construction and $80 million or more in total grant funding, spread out over the next two years.”
What does that mean in real terms?
“If we do this, it would account for about an extra $20 million per year for two years in new jobs and salary support for UAB staff and the resulting economic boost for Birmingham and the state,” Marchase said.
A new Web site will provide access to the information researchers need about new funding opportunities and guidance in applying for funds from varying agencies, he said. All employees with a BlazerID may access this information at www.uab.edu/stimulus.
As needed, UAB also will:
- Supplement staffing in the Office of Grants and Contracts Administration to process all applications.
- Convene additional meetings of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) to review research protocols.
- Consult with faculty on preparing the most persuasive proposals.
Marchase suggested that faculty with a good priority score who are not funded should revise their budgets and specific aims to complete projects within this two-year period.
Future of biomedical research funding
The NIH extramural funding base now is $24 billion, and the FY09 budget contains modest increases. Marchase, who also is president of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, which represents more than 80,000 biomedical research scientists around the world, says researchers and consumers of health care may fare well among the new administration’s funding priorities.
“Federal funding for biomedical research is a priority in President Barack Obama’s administration, and his campaign pledged to double the $24 billion budget in the next 10 years.
“These sustainable increases will improve the opportunities for us to develop cures and provide better health care that citizens want,” Marchase said.
In the meantime, UAB and Alabama need to focus on securing a foothold on the future, he said.
“UAB is in a great position to compete for funding and increase its market share, so we need to embark on an active campaign to take advantage of these economic stimulus funds, but that will require an investment by the state,” Marchase said.
Historically UAB has been remarkably able to leverage state funding to attract double-digit matching funds from the federal budget and elsewhere.
Even in these tight economic times, Marchase said, Gov. Bob Riley and the Alabama Legislature will need to strive for equitable treatment for higher education in the education budget.
“If UAB and higher education in general benefits equitably from Alabama’s share of the economic stimulus package and then is fairly funded in the future, we will continue to be in position to attract hundreds of millions of dollars into this state for research and health care,” Marchase said.
“But if higher education is shortchanged, our preeminence will likely be hard to sustain.”