Johns Hopkins University led U.S. universities with $2.106 billion spent on medical, engineering and other scientific research in fiscal 2012, though that total fell at Hopkins and, on average, at universities across the country compared to the previous year, according to the National Science Foundation.

Hopkins' research spending declined 1.8 percent in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2012, the most recent year for which data is available. The $65.8 billion spent at all U.S. universities during the fiscal year was about flat in absolute terms, but 1.1 percent less than in the previous year when adjusted for inflation, the first such decline since fiscal year 1974, according to NSF. Hopkins was among eight universities in the top 20 for research spending to see a decline.

It was a 34th consecutive year that Hopkins topped the list, a streak that began in 1979 when the science agency adjusted its methodology to include research at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in the university's totals, according to the university.

The Laurel lab performed $1.1 billion in research; without that contribution, Hopkins would rank No. 9 among U.S. universities, according to NSF data.

Hopkins also ranked first among U.S. universities in federally funded research, with $1.857 billion in fiscal 2012.

University officials attributed the decline in research spending to budget cuts and the end of federal economic stimulus spending, and said they expect federally supported research to fall again in fiscal 2013 because of the across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration.

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