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The University at Buffalo moved up 10 spots, to 53rd, in the National Science Foundation's latest ranking of the 100 universities that attract the most federal research money.

UB saw federal research spending on campus rise $32.2 million -- 33 percent -- between 2001 and 2002, a rate that was one of the sharpest increases in the nation, according to the foundation.

The spending increase at UB far outpaced the 13.6 percent rise in federal research spending at all universities, UB President John B. Simpson noted.

"Things are moving in the right direction," he said.

Simpson, who took over as president in January, credited UB's faculty for the improvement.

UB previously had reported the increase from $96.6 million in 2001 to $128.8 million in 2002 in federal research spending on its campus. But the foundation's release of its rankings Wednesday is the first indication of how UB compared with other universities.

UB in recent years has made a push to increase research activity on campus, which lagged during the 1990s when compared with other institutions.

Under former President William R. Greiner and former Provost Elizabeth D. Capaldi, UB created several research centers, most notably a high-tech bioinformatics center.

"I'm pleased that the UB faculty did so well in the brutal competition for federal grants. It is a good indicator of the quality of the research at UB," Capaldi, now a top administrator with the State University of New York, said in an e-mail.

Jaylan S. Turkkan, who resigned July 14 and had been the vice president for research since late 2000, called the emphasis on funded research a "cultural change" for UB.

The improvement in the rankings from 63rd to 53rd should boost UB's reputation as a research university, but it is not clear if UB can maintain this rate of increased spending.

"Probably it reflects investments that were made in the previous two or three years," and UB needs to continue to invest in research support to see future growth, said David J. Triggle, a pharmacy professor and former UB provost.

Simpson said boosting the quality of research conducted at UB is a key part of his vision for the university's future. He cautioned that the foundation's ranking is only one way to measure excellence in research.