Annual Report FY 2004 - Research at Cornell

This has been a year of distinction for Cornell researchers.

Duffield Hall, the remarkable new facility for advanced engineering technology, became fully functional in October. The Mars mission continued to produce important new results. The Cassini mission to Saturn returned spectacularly beautiful photographs and significant data about the satellites of Saturn. Cornell’s research funding continued its steady growth, tracking the pattern of federal support for research. The vitality of our research enterprise is apparent.

We are concerned, however, about issues that plague university research. Regulations on the management of university-based research are becoming increasingly stringent. In addition, a downturn in the size of the national research budget is certain.

In response to these issues, Cornell has taken essential actions. To accommodate the increased reporting requirements for compliance with the many federal and state regulations, we have established a new office—the Office of Research Integrity Assurance (ORIA). The staff of ORIA will support Cornell faculty in conducting the required reviews of such matters as the conduct of human research, the appropriate treatment of animals, mandated training in specific research practices, and issues related to the hosting of foreign national students and researchers. In the past, Cornell faculty volunteered the time required to comply with mandated reporting of research practices. The new ORIA will relieve many of the administrative burdens on the faculty.

Federal support of basic research seems destined to decrease over the next four years. The rapid growth of the National Institutes of Health funding has ended, and the more modest National Science Foundation budget will become even smaller. NASA will devote an increasingly larger fraction of its budget to manned space programs, which offers less opportunity for university research participation. Projections for the other federal agencies show decreases in their budgets, as well.

One strategy for coping with the decreased federal funding is to turn to other sources. Less than 8 percent of Cornell’s research is supported by nongovernmental sources. More Cornell faculty and students could benefit from stronger ties to the industrial sector. In order to be more effective in developing relationships with potential corporate sponsors of research, we have reorganized our technology transfer office. The former Cornell Research Foundation has been incorporated into a new organization, the Cornell Center for Technology, Enterprise, and Commercialization (CCTEC). In addition to marketing Cornell inventions and playing an active role in economic development, CCTEC will have the responsibility for increasing corporate sponsorship of Cornell research. Our goal is to double the fraction of privately sponsored research in the next decade.

Robert C. Richardson
Vice Provost for Research

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