University’s sponsored research funding advances groundbreaking innovation, scholarship

The University of Chicago received $451 million in sponsored research funding in fiscal year 2014, a slight increase from the previous year’s figure of $449.8 million. A total of 2,333 awards were granted last year to UChicago researchers, whose work continues to transform lives, push the boundaries of inquiry and innovation, and blaze new trails of discovery.

Combined awards from foundations, corporations and other non-federal sponsors increased by 9.6 percent in FY 2014, offsetting a decrease of 3.2 percent in federal funding from the previous year—federal awards accounted for 71 percent of the University’s total sponsored research funding. The number of proposals in FY 2014 increased 5.2 percent from FY 2013, while the total proposal dollar amount increased 21 percent.


Sixty-seven percent of the University’s federal funding was from HHS awards, primarily the National Institutes of Health. Total HHS funding in 2014 was $215 million, a two percent decrease from the previous year. The University received 795 NIH awards in fiscal year 2014. Among them:

Gini Fleming, director of the Medical Oncology Breast Program and medical gynecologic oncology director, received $3.2 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.

Robert Grossman, professor of medicine and senior fellow in the Computation Institute, received $19.2 million to oversee the development of the Genomic Data Commons, a new collaboration between UChicago and the National Cancer Institute. The Genomic Data Commons will store and supply the nation’s most comprehensive cancer genomic data, allowing researchers to test their ideas, from comprehensive big data studies to genetic comparisons of individual tumors, to identify the best potential therapies for a single patient.

Abraham Palmer, associate professor of human genetics, received $2.6 million to establish a national Center of Excellence to study drug abuse-associated behaviors by conducting research with rats. The NIDA Center for Genome-Wide Association Studies in Outbred Rats will combine complex behavioral studies with recent technological advances in rat genetics to help scientists shed light on the genes behind drug addiction.

Eduardo Perozo, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, received $4.5 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.

Michelle Le Beau, the Arthur and Marian Edelstein Professor of Medicine and director of the University of Chicago Medicine’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, received $3.6 million for the center’s members to explore and develop innovative ways to prevent and reduce the devastating effects of cancer.

Stacy Tessler Lindau, associate professor of obstetrics/gynecology and medicine-geriatrics and director of the South Side Health and Vitality Studies, received $2.3 million for the CommunityRx System, a project that is connecting health care facilities to the resources of the community to help people better manage their health.

David Meltzer, associate professor of medicine, received $2.1 million to establish a new University of Chicago Medicine program that aims to improve care for patients at high risk of hospitalization and also thereby reducing costs for the health care system.

Nanduri Prabhakar, the Harold Hines Jr. Professor of Medicine and director of the Center for Systems Biology & Oxygen Sensing, received $2 million for his research on O2 sensing and its implications in disease, especially sleep-disordered breathing from sleep apnea. A substantial number of adults and infants experience sleep-disordered breathing which can lead to serious conditions including hypertension, ventilatory abnormalities, myocardial infarctions, metabolic syndrome and even stroke.

Steven White, professor of medicine, received $2 million for his research that explores the molecular mechanisms of airway cell repair and survival in asthma. About 1 in 12 people, or about 25 million, have asthma in the U.S., and the numbers are increasing every year.


Nineteen percent of the University’s federal funding was from NSF awards. Total NSF funding in fiscal year 2014 was approximately $60 million, a six percent decrease from the previous year. The University received 282 NSF awards in FY 2014. Among them:

John Carlstrom, the Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics, received nearly $1.8 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.

Ian Foster, the Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor in Computer Science, director of the Computation Institute and associate director of the Mathematics and Computer Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory, received $1.6 million for the Computation Institute’s participation and leadership in the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment project, Once completed, it will be the most advanced, powerful and robust collection of integrated advanced digital resources and services in the world. Foster also received $1.2 million to build new tools and computational models for evaluating climate and energy policies enabling for the Center for Robust Decision-Making more robust decision-making based on outcomes.

Young-Kee Kim, the Louis Block Professor of Physics, received $1.3 million for research in elementary particle physics, specifically understanding the origin of mass for elementary particles—studies of the Higgs boson—and searching for dark matter and other new physics using the Higgs boson.

Susan Levine, the Rebecca Anne Boylan Professor in Education and Society, received $1 million for a Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center that is focused on developing the science of spatial learning and using this knowledge to help children and adults acquire the scientific, technical, engineering and mathematical skills needed to participate in an increasingly high-technology society and global economy.

Matthew Tirrell, professor and the Founding Pritzker Director, received $1.3 million for his research that takes place at ChemMatCARS, a synchronotron X-ray national facility for chemistry and materials research at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory. The instrumentation at ChemMatCARS provides information that addresses a broad range of issues in chemistry and materials research.


Donald H. Levy, the Albert A. Michelson Distinguished Service Professor in Chemistry and vice president for Research and for National Laboratories, received $2.8 million from the John Templeton Foundation for the Big Ideas Generator, a new initiative that provides funding, operational guidance and access to a network of UChicago colleagues for bold, early-stage UChicago projects. The BIG initiative is a program of Arete, a research accelerator that works with faculty and administrators to develop large, complex initiatives that enhance the University’s research enterprise.

John List, the Homer J. Livingston Professor of Economics, received $1.6 million from the Education Endowment Foundation to measure the success of two parenting academies in the United Kingdom against UChicago-run academies in the United States.

Jens Ludwig, the McCormick Foundation Professor of Social Service Administration, Law and Public Policy at UChicago, director of the University’s Crime Lab, and co-director of the University’s Urban Education Lab, received two awards totaling $2.4 million from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. A grant of $1.4 million was given to evaluate the city of Chicago’s Public Safety Action Committee: A five-year, $50 million effort launched by Mayor Emanuel and local business leaders to reduce violence by raising funds for and supporting proven or promising programs that serve high-risk youth. An additional $1 million granted by the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions will help the Crime Lab advance its mission of studying interventions to prevent violence through new projects in Chicago and beyond.

Bill Michel, executive director of the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, received $2.8 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for The Place Project, led by Theaster Gates, professor of visual arts, to support arts and culture as a catalyst for restoring disinvested neighborhoods.

Deborah Gorman Smith, professor in the School of Social Service Administration and principal investigator and director of the Chicago Center for Youth Violence Prevention, received $1 million from the NIH for the center. The CCYVP brings together researchers, community representatives, practitioners and policymakers to better understand and reduce youth violence in poor, inner-city communities in Chicago.

Dana Suskind, professor of surgery and pediatrics, director of the Pediatric Cochlear Implantation Program, and founder and director of the Thirty Million Words Initiative, received $1.1 million from the PNC Foundation for the Thirty Million Words’ Initiative as part of a $19 million initiative supporting early childhood language development. The grant will support a larger-scale, five-year longitudinal study following between 200 and 250 children from age 15 months to kindergarten to monitor vocabulary development and school readiness.