Why These Priorities?


The roots of this initiative started with the CR1 (pdf, 1pg) that came out of the 2014 Board of Trustees Retreat.

  • Recommendation: Recognizing the essential nature and value of all scholarly and creative activity undertaken at a comprehensive, land-grant institution, the University's mission and the current financial environment compel a focus on research where:
    • The needs of Kentuckians and the Commonwealth are most pressing and
    • The University can continue to compete successfully for external research support 

Investment in research priorities was a key part of the UK Strategic Plan.

  • Strategic Plan Initiative 1: Invest in UK's existing strengths and areas of growth in selected focus areas that benefit and enrich the lives of the citizens of the Commonwealth and beyond. 
    • Action Step 1: Systematically identify UK's existing and emerging areas of strength in research and creative endeavors that are nationally and internationally competitive, and strategically allocate central resources to support them.  


Criteria for use of Strategic Investment Funds for UK Research Priorities

  1. Local Relevance
  2. Existing Areas of Strength
    1. By External Funding
      Extramural funding for projects in these areas were at $16 million or more in 2017. See each priority for specific funding amounts. 

      Note: Expenditures for each thematic area are not mutually exclusive. Projects may be represented in one or more areas. Additionally, expenditures are based on keyword searches and may not include all related projects, and may contain a few projects that are not specific to that area of research.
    2. By Research Scholarship 
      Research projects in these areas have produced thousands of publications from UK researchers since 2012, many of which of been published in top tier journals. See each priority for specifics on publications strengths.
  3. Research Sustainability 
    Each of these areas have shown stable or growing funding since 2013. See each priority for specific funding per year. 
  4. Disciplinary Research Diversity 
    Multiple colleges, departments and centers are working on research that falls under each priority area, including interdisciplinary, collaborative projects. See each priority for a sample of colleges and centers involved in related projects. 

defined areas

Research Priorities as defined by these criteria

  1. Cancer
  2. Cardiovascular Diseases 
  3. Diabetes & Obesity
  4. Energy
  5. Neuroscience
  6. Substance Use Disorder
  7. Diversity & Inclusion (added in 2020)
  8. Materials Science (added in 2023)


success financial support

What might success look like from a research perspective?

  • Increase funding
  • More complex/multidisciplinary grants
  • Reduce the burden of disease in Kentucky
  • Economic impacts: jobs & startups
  • Recruit more researchers to UK