UC Davis Exceeds $1 Billion in Research Awards for 2nd Year

The University of California, Davis, exceeded $1 billion in new external research awards in the fiscal year 2022-23 following the record set the previous year. The funding, which totaled $1.006 billion, will enable scientific discoveries and new technologies through research addressing a wide range of needs in human and animal health, digital systems, the environment and more.  

“Once again, UC Davis has reached a milestone that few other national universities can claim,” said Chancellor Gary S. May. “These research awards not only advance our university initiatives, but they help shape a better tomorrow for Californians, Americans and the world by addressing some of society’s greatest challenges. Our research will continue to shape a more sustainable and just future and improve the health of living beings.” 

“UC Davis’ success in securing this level of funding is a testament to the quality and creativity of our faculty, researchers and staff who are passionate about delivering insight and solutions that benefit our global society,” said Jeffery C. Gibeling, interim vice chancellor for research at UC Davis. “Advancements made possible by this research embody our ethos as a land-grant university.”

The top recipients of this year’s funding were the School of Medicine ($401 million), up by $5 million from the previous fiscal year; the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences ($165 million); and the Office of Research ($97 million). Following closely was the College of Engineering ($93 million), School of Veterinary Medicine ($64 million), College of Letters and Science ($61 million) and College of Biological Sciences ($60 million).

The federal government continued to be the largest provider of funding at $527 million, up by $28 million from last year. The second leading source was the state of California at $161 million. Funding from industry made up the third highest source, totaling $95 million.

The largest award, $32.5 million from the United States Environmental Protection Agency, went to Sean M. Raffuse, associate director of data and software at the UC Davis Air Quality Research Center, or AQRC, to operate the Chemical Speciation Network. The network consists of about 150 monitors nationwide that collect samples of particles from the atmosphere. Over 45,000 of these samples are analyzed per year at AQRC laboratories to understand sources of air pollution.

Notable Awards by College and School

College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Delivering breeding and management solutions to prevent losses to emerging and expanding disease threats in strawberry

The goal of this research initiative is to eliminate the threat of emerging diseases on strawberry production through the development of resistant cultivars, the application of genome-informed predictive breeding approaches, an increased understanding of host-pathogen interactions, and the application of gene editing. Steven J. Knapp, a distinguished professor in the Department of Plant Sciences, leads this multi-institution USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative-funded project in collaboration with investigators at UC Davis, UC Agriculture and Natural Ressources, the USDA Agrigultural Research Service, the University of Florida and Cal Poly San Luis Opisbo.

College of Biological Sciences

Molecular mechanisms linking viral replication and neuropathogenesis

Zika virus infection of fetuses can cause a variety of birth defects called congenital Zika syndrome. The most severe of these birth defects is microcephaly, a developmental brain disorder in which the brain and head do not grow to their normal size, which often results in lifelong intellectually disability. The long-term goal of this project is to decipher how a Zika virus-host protein interaction impacts virus replication and pathogenesis as these discoveries will fuel vaccine development, therapeutic target identification and drug development. The project is led by Priya Shah, an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, and funded by the NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

College of Engineering

Enabling micro-pin array receivers for power generation and high-temperature process heating using metal additive manufacturing development, design and de-risk

The project aims to advance the micro-pin array receiver (MPAR) technology for power generation and high-temperature process heating with applications in concentrated solar power technology.  The team will develop 3D-printed high-temperature, high-pressure receivers that can be used to generate power or for renewable industrial process heat. An additive manufacturing route using laser powder bed fusion is proposed to design the MPAR. The project is led by Vinod Narayanan, a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, in collaboration with four other universities (Carnegie Mellon University, University of Michigan, Penn State University, and Utah State University), three companies (Materials Resources LLC, Sunvapor Inc. and AMETEK Specialty Metal Products), and Sandia National Laboratory. Funding comes from the U.S. Department of Energy.

College of Letters and Science

International paradigms for managing hydrologic extremes in a shifting climate

The National Science Foundation recently funded a collaboration between UC Davis and IHE Delft Institute of Water Education to bring together international groups of graduate students and faculty for a series of Advanced Studies Institutes focusing on international research and solutions to critical water issues. The first institute was held this July in Germany and the Netherlands and focused on flood-risk management, including research and national and international management strategies and policy. The U.S. students worked together with peer students enrolled in IHE Delft’s European Union-funded Erasmus Mundus graduate flood-management program. The project is led by Nicholas Pinter, a professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and an associate director of the Center for Watershed Sciences.

Continuing and Professional Education

A public-private partnership strategy for workforce training in cell and gene therapy manufacturing

This public-private partnership based project will enable students to receive hands-on training and exposure to careers in biomanufacturing while gaining knowledge and employable skills. Led by Jennifer Greenier, director of Life Sciences Workforce Development, the project expects to yield shareable best practices that can be leveraged to replicate public-private partnership models for addressing ongoing challenges and needs in workforce development. The grant funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology through the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals also enabled the establishment of a BIPOC-focused scholarship program for students interested in pursuing careers in the life sciences industry.

Graduate School of Management

Visiting innovative scholar research program for institutions orienting to national needs  

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the mission of the Visiting Innovative Scholar Research Program for Institutions Orienting to National Needs (VISION) is to accelerate research capacity at Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) through strategic institutional partnerships and investments in human capital to disrupt the high teaching loads that impede research by faculty at MSIs. The broader goal of this project is to recruit, identify, place, train, and fund external early and mid-career doctorate degree holders to be in residence with MSI faculty in research and teaching to expand campus research capacity in computer information sciences and engineering. The program is led by Damon Tull, the director for industry alliances at the UC Davis Graduate School of Management and the Mike and Renee Child Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The grant focuses on expanding computing research, an area identified as a national priority by the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy.

School of Education

Supporting California community colleges in pandemic recovery

The project will examine the strategies used by California community colleges to support student engagement and success in the years following the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers will collaborate with community college leaders to identify recovery activities that contribute to improving student outcomes, including persistence, transfer and degree attainment. The project is funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, and is led by principal investigator Michal Kurlaender and co-principal investigator Paco Martorell, both professors in the School of Education, and co-principal investigator  Scott Carrell, professor in the Department of Economics.

School of Law

Safe and affordable funding for equity and resilience drinking water program

The mission of the Aoki Water Justice Clinic at the UC Davis School of Law is to provide technical legal assistance to small disadvantaged communities in California that lack reliable and affordable access to safe drinking water. In addition to meeting the pressing needs of these communities, the clinic will provide valuable training and experience for King Hall law students and help create a pipeline of trained and experienced California water attorneys. The project is led by Robert Mullaney, director of the Aoki Water Justice Clinic, and Gabriel Chin, professor of law and director of Clinical Legal Education, and funded by the State Water Resources Control Board.

School of Nursing

An equity plan to improve caregiver services and supports in California

Researchers at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing are partnering with the California Department of Aging (CDA) to evaluate enhanced community care for caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. Led by Heather M. Young, the institute’s associate director for strategic partnerships, and Janice Bell, director for the School of Nursing’s Family Caregiving Institute, the project aims to examine equity in services to California’s diverse caregiver population, including race/ethnicity, rural/urban and LGBTQ communities. The team will engage service providers in creating a plan for more equitable services for underserved communities. The effort is supported by a grant from the CDA through Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Master Plan for Aging.

School of Medicine

Overcoming resistance to standard CD19-targeted CAR T using a novel triple antigen targeted vector

A grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine will allow researchers from UC Davis led by William J. Murphy, distinguished professor in the departments of Dermatology and Internal Medicine (Division of Malignant Hematology and Cellular Transplantation) to perform necessary preclinical studies evaluating a novel chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) engineered T cells that will prevent relapse in patients with B cell leukemias or lymphomas. This novel platform that allows the donor immune cell to attack three different tumor antigens was generated in collaboration with researchers at Caring Cross, a nonprofit research institute. The funded studies will then lead to the initiation of a clinical trial at UC Davis to assess efficacy.

School of Veterinary Medicine

UC Davis CounterACT Center of Excellence: Developing therapeutic strategies for mitigating the chronic neurological consequences of acute organophosphate intoxication

The project aims to identify and develop novel disease-modifying therapeutic strategies that can be administered after exposure to chemical threat agents, such as organophosphates that trigger seizures, to delay the onset and/or reduce the severity of chronic neurotoxic effects. Current standard of care for acute organophosphate intoxication does not sufficiently protect against persistent neuropathology or prevent development of spontaneous seizures and cognitive deficits in survivors. This research is part of the UC Davis CounterACT Center of Excellence, led by Pamela Lein, the center director and professor and chair in the Department of Molecular Biosciences, and funded by the NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Interdisciplinary Research Awards

Interdisciplinary research units within the Office of Research continue to attract significant funding by bringing experts together from different fields of study. These joint efforts aim to address complex, large-scale challenges that require expertise from many perspectives. Notable examples include:

CA Quits

The goal of CA Quits is to advance population health strategies and health equity for tobacco treatment. CA Quits works with health systems and health plans that serve California's Medicaid population in shared learning and collaboration, especially with public health partners. It is funded by the California Department of Public Health and led by Elisa Tong, a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, and Cindy Valencia, project director for CA Quits based at the UC Davis Center for Healthcare Policy and Research.

Climate Resilient Forest Restoration

In recent times, wildfires, pest outbreaks and droughts have devastated California wildlands. The project aims to develop resilient approaches that integrate genetics, remote sensing and geospatial datasets with traditional methods to equip land managers with adaptive reforestation tools and improve project outcomes. Led by Patricia Maloney, associate director and project scientist at the Tahoe Environmental Research Center, the project will foster a diverse and equitable workforce — ensuring participation from historically underserved communities — around forestry with California Conservation Corps members. The work is funded by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Federal grant renewal to lead the National Center for Sustainable Transportation

The project will allow researchers at UC Davis and its consortium of member universities to focus on accelerating equitable decarbonization that benefits both the transportation system and the well-being of people in overburdened and historically disadvantaged communities. Research activities will concentrate in three critical domains: vehicle technology, infrastructure provision and reshaping travel demand to accelerate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The project is led by Susan Handy, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy and director of the National Center for Sustainable Transportation and is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Media Resources

Note: Reports are based on the principal investigator’s home school or college. Where funds are awarded up-front to cover several years, the money is counted in the first year the award was received. Incrementally funded awards are counted as authorized in each year. 

Media Contacts:

  • AJ Cheline, Office of Research, acheline@ucdavis.edu
  • Andy Fell, News and Media Relations, 530-304-8888, ahfell@ucdavis.edu

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