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Last modified: Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Indy Star opinion piece by AWH

IU's research labs fueling job growth in central Indiana
By Adam W. Herbert
President, Indiana University

Indiana's government leaders deserve a great deal of credit for their success in protecting this state's Defense Department jobs put at risk in the recent base-closing process. They not only preserved the majority of existing jobs, but also positioned Indiana to gain at least 2,000 more jobs over the next couple of years.

Although it has been less visible in the press, another group of Hoosiers has enjoyed similar success in efforts to increase the number of good paying jobs in Indiana. In just four years, scientists at Indiana University have nearly doubled the research activity on our eight campuses, creating several thousand new jobs in the process.

IU's Kelley School of Business estimates that IU's research enterprises are now supporting 8,480 jobs in Indiana. Two-thirds of those jobs are in the professional, scientific and technical sectors. Most of the positions are on our two largest campuses: Bloomington and Indianapolis.

This is the equivalent of Indianapolis and Bloomington each getting a brand new auto manufacturing plant.

IU is able to provide these jobs because our scientists and other researchers have been extraordinarily successful in winning new grants from both public and private sources.

During the 2004-05 academic year, external funding for research and teaching projects at IU's eight campuses increased 15 percent to a record $477 million, up from $413 million in Fiscal '04 and $383 million in Fiscal '03. Last year Indiana University brought more sponsored research dollars to the state than all of Indiana's other colleges and universities combined.

Often, grant money cannot be spent in the same fiscal year it is received, so our balance sheet for a fiscal year usually shows somewhat of a lag between income and outgo. Nonetheless, in Fiscal 2005 IU expended $366 million to support our sponsored research programs. That represents an astonishing 46 percent increase from 2001 when our total research expenditures were $251 million.

Much of this funding goes for cutting edge research in the life sciences in such areas as genetics and aging, neurosciences, cancer and diabetes treatment, alcoholism and a host of other life sciences programs. IU also is making a name for itself in such diverse fields as informatics and cyber-security, bio-chemistry, geology and archeology.

More than half of last year's grant awards came from federal sources, the main ones being the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. IU conducts sponsored research for every department of the federal government, including Defense, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, Education and Energy.

The competition for these awards is keen. Several federal agencies, including the NIH and NSF, are not likely to see their budgets expanded in the next few years and that will make it even harder to win grants for new research proposals. Yet, IU's top scientists will continue to compete with many others from around the nation for every available dollar. Clearly, our IU faculty deserve congratulations for their outstanding performance in this arena.

There also are benefits other than direct job creation. As IU continues to expand its research efforts, central Indiana will become an increasingly attractive location for business ventures that need a source of educated and technically proficient employees.

Over time this research will generate many new discoveries and technologies that will improve all our lives. They will form the basis for new medical treatments that will not only prolong human life, but immensely improve the quality of life for future generations.

When I came to IU as president two years ago, I publicly declared that IU's goal is to double the value of sponsored research within a decade. My goal would take the university's total sponsored research grants and contracts from $383 million in FY 2003 to over $760 million by 2013. Today, I am pleased to report that we are well