Research efforts in understanding the underlying mechanism have been ramped up over the past few years.
I came across this sentence in a published work and now I'm wondering if "efforts" shouldn't be followed by "on" or simply the infinitive form of understanding ("to understand").
Is it a special case because "understanding" also exists as a noun? I'm speculating that "in" is possible as long as "understanding" is not considered as gerund but as noun. Can anyone confirm?
Anyway, wouldn't it be more appropriate to use "on" or "towards" instead of "in"?