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Napolitano submits testimony about research funding to U.S. Senate

By Tala Ahmadi

April 29, 2014 12:37 a.m.

University of California President Janet Napolitano submitted testimony Monday to a U.S. Senate hearing, calling for increased federal support for research.

The hearing, “Driving Innovation Through Federal Investments” taking place Tuesday, will collect data and analysis on the status of federal investments in research and innovation projects.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations will facilitate the hearing that comes at a time when sequestration cuts have threatened many of the UC’s science and research projects.

Witnesses for the hearing include representatives from the National Institute of Health, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation.

Layoffs of experienced staff, skepticism of young potential researchers about the future of research and the abandonment of “promising” scientific projects are a result of sequester cuts, according to Napolitano’s testimony.

Napolitano also outlined some of the ways the UC has contributed to national and global innovation with the $2.5 billion in research grants it was awarded by the federal government in 2013.

She mentioned the more than 1,700 inventions UC researchers disclosed last year and the 71 startup companies the UC helped launch.

The UC is the largest public research university in the world and the largest university recipient of federal research funding.

“A part of our income comes from the government,” said Thomas Schwartz, political science professor at UCLA. “It’s not directly tied to education but rather our other role as a research institution.”

Schwartz also thinks that Napolitano’s background will mainly be used to help advance senators’ arguments during the hearing.

Gary Falle, an associate vice president of UC’s Office of Federal Governmental Relations, said he hopes Napolitano’s testimony will leave a lasting influence on the hearing.

“The hearing includes one of the most important committees in Congress that provides the money for a lot of our research,” Falle said. “The fact that (Napolitano) is a former cabinet secretary and a former governor indicates how important this is, and for her being the one to describe the importance will go a long way.”

Compiled by Tala Ahmadi, Bruin contributor.

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