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Home / News / Education / USC surpasses $1 billion in research spending

USC surpasses $1 billion in research spending

by City News Service
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USC has surpassed $1 billion in research spending for the first time, the school announced this week.

The new high-water mark of $1.04 billion as of June 30 includes significant investments in USC President Carol Folt’s initiatives in computing, health affairs research and sustainability, officials said.

“This ranking recognizes the incredible work being done by USC’s game-changing researchers here and around the world,” Folt said in a statement. “Our ambitious moonshots in advanced computing, health and sustainability will continue to accelerate the growth of our research enterprise in every way imaginable.”

The latest federal Higher Education Research and Development Survey puts USC in an exclusive group of 13 private universities whose research expenditures top $1 billion annually.

The report shows that USC ranked first on the West Coast and fifth in the nation with $112 million in research spending in computer and information sciences in 2022. Among private universities, in research spending on social sciences — a category that includes economics, political science, public policy analysis and gerontology — USC’s $76 million trailed only Harvard.

Paul Aisen was USC’s most highly funded scientist in 2022 with $52 million from federal sources, foundations and private industry, the university said. Aisen directs USC’s Alzheimer’s Therapeutic Research Institute, the nation’s largest center for organizing Alzheimer’s clinical trials.

Other funding and research spending highlights over the past year included:

— Folt’s announcement of the USC Frontiers of Computing initiative in May pledged more than $1 billion of investment into computing research and education by 2030. Prior to that announcement, leading grant recipient Massoud Pedram of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering received $15 million from the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Expeditions in Computing program, one of only two such awards announced in 2022. In computing and computer science research spending, USC is outranked only by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and Carnegie Mellon University.

— Feifei Qian of USC Viterbi received $3 million from NASA to create robots that move like lizards, snakes and insects.

— Krishna Nayak, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering at USC Viterbi, received a four-year, $1.3 million grant from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases to develop next-generation MRI equipment.

— As recipients of NIH Director’s Awards, USC Stem Cell scientists Justin Ichida, $5 million, and Zhongwei Li, $2.5 million, secured funds to pursue potential therapies for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and kidney disease.

— The NIH awarded USC researchers $4 million to create a research center aimed at protecting children from near-roadway and regional air pollution released by various industries, including through the transportation of goods, urban oil and gas production, and wildfires.

The National Institutes of Health is USC’s most significant source of research funding with $387 million provided, followed by the U.S. Department of Defense, $107 million, and the National Science Foundation, $72 million. The fourth largest in 2022 was pharmaceutical company Cognition Therapeutics, $21 million, followed by $11 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the state’s stem cell research agency.

USC’s research expenditures are expected to keep rising, with a boost from the USC Stevens Center for Innovation. The center recently named Erin Overstreet as its new executive director. Overstreet will oversee the university’s commercialization of USC-driven property.

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