Beginning in 1995, the University-wide Interdisciplinary Research Center (UWIRC) program was proposed by Drs. Allman, Hunter, LoBuglio, and Craig and Sharon Ramey to help promote interdisciplinary research, education, and service. It was implemented with initial funding in 1997 for ten “full” centers and 7 “pilot” centers. Since its inception, this program has played a major role in promoting interdisciplinary, cross-institutional collaboration at UAB. The essential tenets of the original proposal include:
To be designated a UWIRC, centers must receive sponsorship involve participation by faculty from more than two UAB schools. New and established centers compete for UWIRC status in a competition held about every three years. The most recent funding cycle began with FY2013-2014, with twenty centers receiving the UWIRC designation for this cycle.Applicant centers are evaluated by a review panel, based on the following criteria: substantive interdisciplinary faculty involvement; provision of research infrastructure; contribution to the university intellectual environment; an adequate financial base to support center and core activities; internal and external review processes to assure quality and productivity; and leadership in the integration of research and service, including community outreach or partnerships. Centers receiving designation as a UWIRC are funded at varying levels, with approximately 70% coming from a central UWIRC pool of funds, with additional support provided through indirect costs on grants. Additionally, four centers were designated as Pilot Developmental Centers in 2015, each receiving a total budget of $100,000/year. These developing research centers are expected to expand their focus and scope sufficiently to eventually qualify as a full UWIRC. Applicant centers are evaluated on their potential to meet many of the same criteria as the full UWIRCs.