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Justine Kleinrichert

VUMC makes jump in NIH funds ranking

BY: MELISSA MARINO

6/24/2005 - Vanderbilt University Medical Center has climbed to 15th out of 123 academic medical centers in National Institutes of Health funding, reflecting an increase in the total number of awards from 521 to 554, and a 10.2 percent increase in total funding to $226.8 million.

The two-position jump for fiscal year 2004 (Oct. 1, 2003 - Sept. 30, 2004) enhances VUMC’s position as the fastest growing research program in the nation.

“Our strategic plan has called for us to be one of the top 10 medical schools in the country, excelling in education, patient care and research,” said Steven G. Gabbe, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine. “We are making important advances in every one of these areas, and moving to the 15th position in NIH funding is just one example of the progress we've made in basic and clinical research.”

“This is a tribute to our faculty who have competed so successfully for this funding, our chairs, center and institute leaders, our trainees and technical staff, and our administrators who provide the resources and create the facilities where this work is done.”

“I congratulate our faculty and staff on this impressive accomplishment,” said Jeffrey R. Balser, M.D., associate vice chancellor for Research. “A two-position jump into the top 15, particularly during a period of increasing competition for scarce federal funding, speaks to exceptional creativity and endurance on the part of our investigators. Our investigators are succeeding in maintaining and growing investigator-initiated (R01-based) science, which is the essential backbone of our discovery enterprise.”

Eight VUMC departments ranked in the top 10 in their respective categories and twelve placed in the top 20: Molecular Physiology and Biophysics (1), Cell and Developmental Biology/Cancer Biology (5), Medicine (6), Pharmacology (6), Pediatrics (8), Anesthesiology (9), Biochemistry (10), Radiology (10) Biostatistics (13), Surgery (14), Microbiology (17) and Otolaryngology (18).

“The department-specific rankings show that many of our departments and centers are expanding their NIH funding more rapidly than their counterparts at peer institutions. This broad-based progress suggests Vanderbilt is in a very strong position to respond to many of the new multi-disciplinary funding opportunities NIH is now emphasizing in their strategic plan, including large-scale Center awards supporting translational science,” Balser said.

Molecular Physiology and Biophysics remains the highest-ranked basic science department at VUMC and, now, is number one in the country.

The department led the second-ranked department by more than $7.5 million in funding.

“The number one ranking in NIH funding is a tribute to the hard work and talent of the faculty in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics,” said Alan Cherrington, Ph.D., Charles H. Best Professor of Diabetes Research and chair of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics.

“We are fortunate to have a number of internationally recognized research leaders among our faculty, as well as some very productive junior faculty.

“We also exist in a very supportive environment here at VUMC. Institutional support for cores is first rate and the collegial atmosphere fosters collaboration and makes all departments better.”

Medicine (6), Vanderbilt's highest-ranked clinical department, moved up one slot from 2003 reflecting an increase of more than $11 million in NIH funding from the previous year.

“The Department of Medicine has been growing its research portfolio over the last several years at a compound rate of 24 percent,” said Eric G. Neilson, M.D., Morgan Professor and chairman of the Department of Medicine.

“This is because we have a superb faculty capable of competing for research dollars with the very best scientists in the country. Twenty percent of our clinician-educators also have grants, and our overall portfolio of research funding reflects great intellectual diversity. The return-on-investment from institutional funds used to develop new research programs has been staggering. It's all in the hope that the work of our faculty will lead to better understanding of disease and new therapies for patients.”

“The Medical Center's consistent growth in NIH funding is a testament to all those involved in the research enterprise,” said Harry R. Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs.

“Their ingenuity in pursuing cutting-edge research and the collaborative spirit of their endeavors not only underlies this important measure of research success, but brings us closer to our ultimate goal of eliminating disability and disease through the best care modern medicine can provide.”

Award data and rankings are available on the NIH Web site, http://grants2.nih.gov/grants/-award/awardtr.htm.

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