U research increasingly supported by private money

John Thomas

By Youssef Rddad


Corrections (5/27/2015):  This blog originally stated that sponsored reaserch awards had increased by $741 million from 2013 to 2014.  That was the total amount of funds awarded in 2014.


As federal dollars decline for researchers due to increased competition, some researchers at the University of Minnesota are finding other ways to raise money. But some worry that outside funds could impact the school’s research priorities, the Star Tribune reports.


The university saw a 6.8%  increase in sponsored research awards from 2013, raising the budget to $741 million. This is according Brian Herman’s, the University’s Vice President for Research, whose office released their annual State of Research report last December.


“As federal dollars get harder and harder to obtain, I think people are increasingly dependent on the private sector,” former director of the Center for Neurobehavioral Development at the University of Minnesota Charles Nelson said to the Star Tribune.


Nelson said he was does not opposes outside funding but said he worried that private funds could limit the scope of what is researched.


University researchers say the school has certain safeguards in place to manage possible conflicts and say being flexible with private and public research funding is important.


Some researchers, however, say privately funded research does influence research agendas.


“The university is not for sale,” said Herman to the Star Tribune. “We do research because the university and its faculty think that they’ve got expertise in an area, and think it’s aligned with an important societal need.”


The debate for ramping up oversight comes at a time of scrutiny over how research is conducted at the University, following recent calls for more protection for human research patients.