University’s sponsored research funding up slightly in FY2015

Lisa La Vallee
Director of CommunicationsOffice of the Vice President for Research and for National Laboratories

The University of Chicago received $469 million in sponsored research funding in fiscal year 2015, a 4 percent increase from the previous year’s figure of $451 million. UChicago researchers were granted 2,250 total awards last yea , and they were distributed to those whose work generates new knowledge for the benefit of present and future generations.

Federal awards, which account for 71 percent of the University’s total sponsored research funding, increased by about 3 percent in 2015 from the previous year. Combined awards from foundations, corporations and other non-federal sponsors increased by 7 percent from 2014.


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services funding, primarily the NIH, increased slightly in 2015 and, similar to the previous fiscal year, comprised 50 percent of the University’s total sponsored research funding. The University received 744 awards in fiscal year 2015. Among them:

Gini Fleming, director of the Medical Oncology Breast Program and medical oncology director of Gynecologic Oncology, received $3.4 million for the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology Operations Center, which brings together clinical oncologists and laboratory investigators to develop better treatments for cancer.

Andrzej Joachimiak, senior fellow at the Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology and the Computation Institute, received $6.2 million for the Midwest Center for Structural Genomics. The center’s goal is to develop new, more advanced tools, methods and approaches for determining protein structures through X-ray crystallography, thereby speeding the progress of biomedical research.

Michelle Le Beau, professor of hematology/oncology, director of the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center, and director of the Cancer Cytogenetics Laboratory, received $4.3 million for the Cancer Center. The center’s researchers explore and develop innovative ways to prevent and reduce cancer's devastating effects.

David Meltzer, associate professor of medicine, received a $2 million Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Innovation Challenge award. Meltzer will study the effects that improved continuity in the doctor-patient relationship between inpatient and outpatient settings had on the costs and outcomes of care for frequently hospitalized Medicare patients.

Eduardo Perozo, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, received $4.2 million for the creation of the Membrane Protein Structural Dynamics Consortium, a highly interactive, tightly integrated and multidisciplinary effort focused on elucidating the relationship between structure, dynamics and function in a variety of membrane proteins.

Julian Solway, the Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics and director of the Institute for Translational Medicine, received $4 million to further the institute’s mission to advance medicine in innovative ways. The institute aims to improve clinical practice by collaborating with researchers and clinicians across many disciplines at 62 partner institutions.

Rick Stevens, professor of computer science, senior fellow in the Computation Institute and the Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology, and associate laboratory director for Computing, Environment and Life Sciences at Argonne, received $3.9 million for the Pathosystems Resource Integration Center, a massive online resource for scientists studying the most dangerous viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms. The center integrates vital pathogen information with rich data and analytical tools to refine the scope of available bacterial phylogenomic data from numerous sources. Designed for the bacterial research community, the resource saves biologists time and effort when conducting comparative analyses. 


Twelve percent of the University’s federal funding came from NSF awards. Total NSF funding in fiscal year 2015 was $54 million, a 10 percent decrease from the previous year. The University received 239 NSF awards in fiscal year 2015. Among them:

Ian Foster, the Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor of Computer Science, director of the Computation Institute, and associate director of the Mathematics and Computer Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory, received $1.7 million for the institute’s work on the architecture, user-access services and software development of the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment, an advanced and robust collection of integrated digital resources and services. Scientists use the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment to interactively share computing data and expertise.

Katarzyna Keahey, a fellow at the Computation Institute and the Scientist, Mathematics and Computer Science Division at Argonne, received $1.3 million for the large-scale, fully configurable experimental test bed called Chameleon. The test bed will address the cloud-based research needs of the open research community, which currently requires infrastructure and data to perform experimental research. 

Ka Yee Lee, professor of chemistry, received grant funding totaling $6.7 million to support the innovative research of the University’s Chicago Materials Research Center, which produces design principles for the next generation of materials.

John Carlstrom, the Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics, received $2.9 million for cosmological research with the 10-meter South Pole Telescope. The largest telescope ever deployed at the South Pole, the SPT provides astronomers a powerful new tool to explore dark energy, the mysterious phenomena that may be causing the universe to accelerate.

Mark Rivers, executive director of the Center for Advanced Radiation Sources, received $2.7 million for GeoSoilEnviroCARS, a national facility for frontier research in the earth sciences that uses synchrotron radiation at Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source.  

Matthew Tirrell, the Pritzker Director of the Institute for Molecular Engineering and deputy laboratory director for science at Argonne, received $1.3 million for ChemMatCARS, a national synchrotron X-ray facility for chemistry and materials research at the Advanced Photon Source.

Michael Turner, the Bruce & Diana Rauner Distinguished Service Professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics and director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, received grant funding totaling $6.2 million for the Physics Frontier Center, which seeks to reveal and clarify the new physics underpinning cosmology or to find the flaw within the current paradigm.


Giulia Galli, the Liew Family Professor of Molecular Engineering, received two grants totaling $670,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy for her projects developing theoretical and computational methods to understand and predict the properties and behavior of materials (solids, liquids and nanostructures).

Margaret Gardel, associate professor of physics, received $1.25 million from the U.S. Department of Defense for her work studying the mechanics of how cells respond to forces.

Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman Professor of Economics and director of the Energy Policy Institute at Chicago, received $700,000 from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to study the cost-benefit analysis of home energy conservation investments and greenhouse gas reduction.

James Heckman, the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor of Economics, received $2.1 million from the Pritzker Family Foundation for research on the economics of early childhood development. The Pritzker Consortium on Early Childhood Development brings together leading experts to identify the most influential child-intervention programs, especially those implemented within the first five years of life, a critically important time to determine human potential.

Jens Ludwig, the McCormick Foundation Professor of Social Service Administration, Law and Public Policy in the School of Social Service Administration and the Harris School of Public Policy, received two grants totaling $5.5 million from The Laura and John Arnold Foundation to fund the University of Chicago Crime Lab New York. Leading researchers will provide policymakers in New York City with rigorous, objective, scientific evidence to help reduce crime and violence; and for work reducing drop out rates and youth violence in Chicago.

William Schweiker, the Edward L. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor of Theological Ethics, received $4.6 million from the John Templeton Foundation for the Enhancing Life Project, which brings together an international group of humanists and social scientists to study the essential aspirations of human beings. The scholars also aim to address how the expansion of various forms of human power, such as technology, has both imperiled life and created new ways for it to flourish.