Research at New York Universities Sets a Record in 2000

Albany, NY – Money spent on research at colleges and universities in New York has reached record levels. State officials reported Tuesday that research spending in 2000 approached $2.3 billion.

The numbers for 2000 were put together by NYSTAR -- the New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research. Cornell University spent the most on research -- more than $410 million. The University at Buffalo placed fourth on the list at nearly $187.7 million. NYSTAR spokesman Jim Denn says the increase is significant.

"The research and development activities of the state's universities are a critical part of the state's economy," Denn said. "This research will foster the development of new innovations and new technology that, in turn, will create new jobs for New Yorkers."

UB's research spending rose by 12-point-five percent in 2000 from the previous year. Jaylan Turkkan is Vice President for Research. She says word of the increase at UB not only benefits the university but the community as well.

"What ever is good for UB is good for the community. There's a ripple effect. Every contract that gets funded at the university results in the employment of people. Technology is made available to businesses," Turkkan said. "So, for Buffalo and the region, every increment in our research awards and expenditures is good."

It's likely when the report on 2001 research spending comes out, there will be another increase -- both statewide and at UB. Governor Pataki placed a high priority on high technology last year. In December, he came to Buffalo to announce the creation of a Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics. Turkkan says such announcements helps the university in several ways.

"It increases your ability to attract the kinds of people who already have large grant portfolios. They're poised to take advantage of the new centers we're opening," she said.

UB topped all SUNY schools in research spending. Other SUNY schools in the top ten include Stony Brook and Albany. But NYSTAR's Jim Denn says private institutions make up the bulk of the top ten.

"The recognition that research is important covers both public and private universities," he said. "Each and everyone of them have recognized the importance of this."

Besides Cornell, Columbia University and the University of Rochester are above U-B when it comes to research spending. Turkkan says she has her sites set on overtaking them.

"Afterall, we're almost at $200 million in expenditures now. We've got to double that, and I think that's possible over the next decade," she said. "It means we're going to have to place our chips in the areas that are going to get us the biggest bang for the buck."

Turkkan says UB needs to focus on where the "big wins" are going to be, and right now, that appears to be Bioinformatics. It's the science of using computers and the mapping of the human genome to cure diseases. Indeed, the private sector is promising $150 million for UB's Bioinformatics center and New York State another $50 million.