Virginia Tech has reported research expenditures of $366.9 million to the National Science Foundation for fiscal year 2007 (year ending June 30, 2007), which is an increase of $45.2 million—or 14 percent—over 2006.

“Virginia Tech researchers are to be commended for their hard work and excellent reputation, which improved competitiveness as we vie with some of the top research universities in the country for project funding,” said Robert Walters, vice president for research.

Research expenditures are funds actually spent to conduct research. The figures reported to the National Science Foundation include sponsored research from federal, state, local, and industry sources. The figure also includes institutional investments, which take the form of facilities and administrative costs and overhead recovered from sponsors and reinvested primarily in equipment, infrastructure, and salaries to support research programs.

Major funding during 2007 was provided by the Commonwealth Research Initiative, an initiative of the state of Virginia that provided seed investments for burgeoning research programs at several universities. The focus at Virginia Tech is infectious disease and nanotechnology and related health and technology areas. The Commonwealth Research Initiative provided $11.5 million for equipment and additional support for start-up packages for new faculty and for graduate student support. “Such investments in the research infrastructure enhance the university’s ability to do critical research in new areas,” said Walters.

Virginia Tech is hopeful that the state will continue to invest in more targeted research growth; the seed capital to get these programs started should pay dividends in the coming years as these programs respond to contract and grant requests from federal agencies.

“These seed funds help us to jump-start programs to a point where they are competitive with similar programs at other research universities, providing vital equipment that we could not have afforded on our own,” said Walters. “It also helps us compete with the best universities in the country for talented professors who come to Virginia Tech to teach and do research.”

For example, the initiative funds allowed establishment of shared-use mosquito rearing and bio-safety level 3 laboratories, which will be used by all members of the Vector Borne Disease Research Group. In mid-January, Zach Adelman and Kevin Myles, assistant professors of entomology with the research group, received a five-year, $1.9 million research grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to develop controls of viruses in mosquitoes.

Based on $321.7 million in research expenditures in fiscal year 2006, Virginia Tech is ranked 54th among the more than 600 universities that submitted data to the National Science Foundation. Rankings for 2007 may not be issued until fall 2008.