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Credit: Varun Sudunagunta

Penn is ranked third in the U.S. for university research expenditure in the fiscal year of 2016, according to data that was released earlier this year by the National Science Foundation

The data, which is compiled annually by the NSF, shows that Penn made a significant leap in research expenditure from 2015 to 2016, jumping from being 17th in the country to being third, behind only John Hopkins University and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Under this ranking, Penn, which boasts a total research expenditure of nearly $1.3 billion, is ranked top among the Ivy League institutions. 

For the past decade, Penn has consistently placed among the top 20 highest research institutions out of a list of over 900 universities nationwide. However, the 2016 ranking that Penn received is the highest in its history.

Most of Penn's research expenditure went to work done in the life sciences, such as biology and medicine. According to the NSF, Penn's research in the sciences took up over 83 percent of the University's total research expenditure. Over $628 million was spent on research in the life sciences; in contrast, no research expenditure was recorded for the field of social work, and only around $4 million was recorded for research in the humanities. 

The bulk of Penn's research expenditure was funded by the federal government through sources such as the National Science Foundation and the Department of Health and Human Services, according to the financial breakdown on Best Colleges' website. Federal funding has increased over $40 million since 2015. 

This expenditure allows the University to expand and maintain its 138 on-campus research centers and the 4,800 research faculty members, according the Penn's website.