We live in a society that has seemingly never-ending challenges and questions needing answers. Some tend to think our societal problems can only be solved by people in positions of influence, like politicians, special interest groups or wealthy philanthropists.

As a researcher and leader at the University of Utah, let me tell you that this is not always true. I am happy to let you know that our students, faculty and staff are at the forefront of discovering critical answers and solutions to many of our world’s toughest challenges while at the same time growing our state’s economy.  

How are they doing this? By the power of research.

Research goes beyond medicine and science. It encompasses many areas of study and professions that affect our lives at one point or another — everything from discovering a cure for cancer to creating more jobs for Utahns.

Researchers on the front lines of discoveries

From childhood autism to wildfire prevention or preserving the Great Salt Lake, our researchers are determined to find answers for a better tomorrow. Researchers’ devotion is inspiring, and you, the public, should know that they will continue dedicating their time to finding solutions to the problems society faces now and in the future. 

Economic growth for Utah

Research is not only helping bring society impacting discoveries closer, it’s also helping many Utahns personally and economically. Over 8,000 U employees are compensated by research dollars, and over the last three years, research has supported $598 million in wages in our state. Research is paying bills, putting food on tables and giving families better lives.  

Businesses in Utah also benefit from our university’s research. In 2022, the University of Utah generated over $28 million in expenditures on research-related goods and services in the Beehive State, according to a report by the Institute for Research on Innovation and Science. The U’s culture to drive innovations will continue to create more jobs and support more businesses throughout the state. 

Lee, Romney file bill to preserve, protect Research Park at University of Utah
How much did donors give the University of Utah during its just-completed giving campaign? A record $3 billion

Many people are unaware that university inventions build startup companies, create jobs and support local businesses that drive our state’s economic growth. In the last three years, the U launched over 30 startup companies, despite the challenges of a global pandemic. The technology and innovation engine are fueled by the power of research, and I’m proud of the support it provides, on many levels, to today’s society.  

Ready to meet tomorrow’s challenges 

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While our university and its researchers are working to solve the issues of today, we are always aware of the need to be ready to work on the challenges of tomorrow as well. Data-driven research for artificial intelligence, STEM education, natural disaster preparedness and other studies are just some of the topics that our researchers will be addressing. Our university will be ready on the frontline to meet the challenges that come our way.  

Join the research movement

For the ninth year in a row, University of Utah research funding grew — to $686 million. What does this mean? It means people are investing in research because they believe in it. Success is always a team effort, so I ask you to be a part of it by supporting U of U research. Whether it’s by getting to know more about our researchers, their studies or their discoveries, we want you to be a part of our journey. Some of the ways you can participate include attending student research events, learning more about our research goals via our website, giving donations or even participating in studies.

The power of research is real, and the work of our researchers is vital. As a leading research institution and a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, the University of Utah continues to build on its long history of innovation. With your support, we’ll be able to give even more back to our community — in research discoveries, economic growth and hope for a better future.

Erin Rothwell is the vice president for research and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Utah.

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