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As I enter my third month of serving as interim vice chancellor for research, I am increasingly aware of important topics that I know would be beneficial to share with the wider research community at Carolina. My intention for this monthly blog will be to share that information with you.

One of the best parts of this role is getting to work alongside people who not only do incredible things, but also support others in their pursuit of new discoveries and knowledge. One such person is Kelly Dockham, who oversees federal relations for the university. As many of you may already know, in March President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022 (“Omnibus Bill”) into law, which will fund federal agencies and programs through September 30. Kelly and her team quickly pulled together a list of the exciting opportunities for the university included in the plan, and I’d like to share some of those with you. You can find a more comprehensive list in the Office of Federal Affairs’ March DC Download newsletter.

Some elements of the bill that particularly relate to our research strengths include:

  • $8.84 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF), a 4% increase over FY21. This is the largest increase to NSF in 12 years, including a new directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships focused on key areas, such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and climate science.
  • $599.48 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a 5.1% increase over FY21.
  • $24 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, an increase of $770 million over FY21.
  • $49 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including $45.129 billion for NIH’s base funding, an increase of $275 million above FY22 level, with an increase in no less than 3.4% for each institute and center to support a wide range of biomedical and behavioral research.
  • $1 billion to establish ARPA-H within the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Secretary to accelerate the pace of scientific breakthroughs for diseases such as ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer; this still requires congressional authorization.
  • $8.5 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an increase of $582 million over FY21.
  • $8.9 billion for the Health Resources and Services Administration, an increase of $1.4 billion over FY21.
  • $350 million for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, an increase of $12 million over FY21.
  • $7.457 billion for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, a 6% increase over FY21.
  • $450 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, a 5% increase over FY21.
  • $180 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities, a 7.5% increase over FY21.
  • $180 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, a 7.5% increase over FY21.
  • And finally, $4 million for expanding research out of UNC’s Matthew Gfeller Center to assess brain health among military service members, which our own Office of Federal Affairs helped successfully advocate for.

In a separate action, on March 28, President Biden put forward his FY23 budget request to Congress that highlights his administration’s top policy and funding priorities for each federal agency. Time will tell as to the outcome of the Presidential Budget Request as Congress will ultimately decide the funding levels for the year. For additional details regarding Biden’s FY23 request, you can review the Office of Federal Affairs April 1 DC Download newsletter.

I am grateful for the increased financial backing provided by Congress in the recently passed omnibus legislation. This bipartisan funding bill provides significant investment in research that touches all parts of our campus. These federal investments in scientific research will provide us significant opportunities to capitalize on our strengths and bolster the strategic research priorities within Carolina Next’s Discover initiative. It will be wonderful to build upon our collaborative research environment and identify new partnerships as we respond to these new research opportunities. And, as always, it will be exciting to see what our researchers compete, and receive awards, for in response. Even more exciting will be watching these opportunities be conveyed into experiences for our students, continued support for all research on campus, and direct impact for our state and global “heel”print!

For more information on federal funding opportunities, please visit UNC Research’s funding resources page. You can also visit our website for internal funding opportunities and even more resources for researchers.

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