March 29, 2018
Topic: Campus News
University leaders say they are pleased with a new federal spending plan that will increase investments in scientific research and financial aid through the end of the fiscal year.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, signed into law late last week, offers significant funding increases for the National Institutes of Health, NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.
The $1.3 trillion legislation funds the federal government through the end of the current fiscal year, ending Sept. 30.
"This is good news for our faculty and students, for our state and for the nation," said S. Jack Hu, vice president for research, adding that federal investment in research amounted to 83 percent of the university's total externally sponsored research last year.
U-M is the top public university in the country in research volume with nearly $1.5 billion in research expenditures last year.
The NIH, which is the largest federal funder of research at U-M, received an 8.7 percent funding increase in the plan. Last year, U-M received $502.5 million in NIH funding. The Energy Department's Office of Science, which is the nation's largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences, also received a 16.1 percent bump.
"These funds are central to our ability not only to generate new ideas and insights in faculty and student research, but also to prepare our students to be leaders and innovators in a wide range of disciplines as they participate in research and research training," Hu said.
In addition to increased funding for research, the spending plan also increases the maximum Pell Grant award by $175 to $6,095 and maintains the expansion of year-round Pell Grants that allow students to attend summer classes. In the 2016-17 school year, students at U-M's Ann Arbor campus received $20.4 million in Pell Grants.
The financial aid funding is "vital to ensuring a more diverse, educated and prepared workforce," Hu said.
University leaders are "very pleased" that the bill signals a continued commitment to increased funding levels, said Marschall Runge, executive vice president for medical affairs.
For the Medical School, more than 70 percent of the $560 million in research awards last year came from the NIH, Runge said.
The bill also includes $500 million to fund research on opioid addiction, something that aligns with the university's cross-campus Precision Health initiative, he said. The pilot project for the new initiative focuses on opioid prescribing in the presurgical setting.
"Research and education are fundamental to our university and health system activities," Runge said.