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UTSA securing more research funding despite NIH tightening
May 21, 2018

The University of Texas at San Antonio's Bernard Arulanandam said the institution is moving closer to becoming eligible for funding from the National Research University Fund. GABE HERNANDEZ | SABJ

By W. Scott Bailey – Senior Reporter San Antonio Business Journal

The University of Texas at San Antonio is embracing diversification as its core strategy for pursuing increased research funding. That plan is paying off as the institution is locking in more money despite declining support from the National Institutes of Health.

In fiscal 2017, UTSA’s total research and development expenditures topped $68.1 million, a 50.3 percent increase over fiscal 2014 spending. Over that span, UTSA’s federal research and development expenditures increased more than 29 percent to $29.9 million. Those gains are the result of greater overall research funding that have helped offset a disconcerting trend in NIH funding that has affected organizations across the country. In fiscal 2012, UTSA secured more than $13 million in NIH funding. Last year, its grant total from the federal agency dropped to $8.6 million.

Growing research funding is critical for UTSA. The university’s president, Taylor Eighmy, wants the school to work toward becoming eligible for money from the National Research University Fund. To get there, the university must secure at least $45 million in restricted research funding in at least two consecutive years. Eighmy said attaining eligibility would position UTSA to qualify for up to $10 million in additional annual funding.

That’s more than the NIH has awarded the university in each of the last two years.

Click here to read Critical Condition: Declining NIH money threatens San Antonio's economic future

Bernard Arulanandam, interim vice president for research, economic development and knowledge enterprises at UTSA, said the institution has the target in sight.

“We have about $9 million more to go,” Arulanandam told me. “If we continue at the rate we are growing, we can definitely get there.” Arulanandam is also confident that UTSA can maintain the required level of restricted funding support long enough to attain and maintain eligibility for the National Research University Fund.

“One of our goals has been to diversify our [research funding] portfolio," he said.

That portfolio now includes several funding sources, Arulanandam said, including the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security.

“Over the last couple of years, we have seen a fluctuation in NIH funding, similar to what other research institutions across the nation are experiencing,” he said. “At the same time, the total amount of funding our researchers receive continues to grow each year.”

Some of that inspiration is coming from Eighmy, who has a background in research and is roughly eight months into his position as president of UTSA.

“He’s been very important,” Arulanandam said. “He has set a high bar for us as a comprehensive research institute.”

The Largest Recipients of NIH Research Funding in 2017


26 photos

UTSA Fiscal Year NIH Funding


  • Awards: 38
  • Total amount: $13,039,202



  • Awards: 29
  • Total amount: $10,035,138



  • Awards: 32
  • Total amount: $11,579,777



  • Awards: 36
  • Total amount: $11,285,001



  • Awards: 33
  • Total amount: $9,824,359



  • Awards: 34 awards
  • Total amount: $8,602,632


UTSA Total Research & Development Expenditures

  • 2014: $45.3 million
  • 2017: $68.1 million


UTSA Total Federal Research & Development Expenditures

  • 2014: $23.1 million
  • 2017: $29.9 million


Source: University of Texas at San Antonio


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