BURLINGTON, Vt. — A network of Vermont scientists led by the University of Vermont is getting a federal grant of $17.8 million to continue biomedical research projects while also training the next generation of researchers, officials said Friday.

The five-year grant to the Vermont Genetics Network at UVM from the National Institutes of Health will be used to support academic research and the education of students at nine Vermont colleges and university.

“We encourage faculty research at our partner schools so they can carry out important research,” said Judith Van Houten the director of the network, which does research in genetics and other scientific fields. “We want the partner schools to carry out publishable, competitive research.”

At the same time the research will enable students at those schools to participate in high-quality research, in many cases a prerequisite for admission to graduate schools, or they can get good jobs in private industry, she said.

Since 2005, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy has helped secure $56.3 million in federal funding for the program. Over the years the money has supported research on topics such as cancer, infectious diseases and lung diseases.

“Our small state has been at the forefront of these innovations,” Leahy said Friday at the UVM grant announcement.

Van Houten said the money would be used to subcontract with schools to help fund faculty positions and help students.