WVU continues climb in biomedical research funding

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University School of Medicine faculty researchers, winning a growing share of federal spending for biomedical research, continue to advance the school’s rankings in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. The advance comes even as federal spending on research decreased over the past three to four years.

The 2008 figures, released in March, show WVU edging up one notch to 92nd among the 127 medical schools awarded NIH funding for research projects. Nationwide, NIH grants to medical schools dropped by $340 million from 2007 to 2008 while WVU’s share of the $10.98 billion increased by $100,000.

“The dramatic and important shift in our NIH funding has been very exciting,” said Thomas M. Saba, Ph.D., associate vice president for research and graduate education at the WVU Health Sciences Center. “The school’s Strategic Research Plan has strengthened the ability of faculty to prepare competitive grant applications and helped WVU attract many outstanding scientists to the faculty.”

Under the plan, implemented six years ago, WVU Health Sciences built up its research enterprise by concentrating money and dedicating laboratory space to areas of research on diseases prevalent in the state, including heart and lung diseases, neural degeneration and cancer. “The new faculty we were able to attract have transferred their grants to WVU and brought new technology to our research efforts,” Saba said.

The Strategic Research Plan resulted in total grant and contract funding at the WVU Health Sciences Center, most of it in the School of Medicine, increasing from about $32.5 million per year to more than $50 million per year.

NIH grants, which are part of this total, doubled during this same six years, increasing from $11 million to $22 million per year. This moved the School of Medicine’s NIH ranking from 105 to its current 92 among the nation’s medical schools.

“This is actually a very large increase in such a short time,” Saba said. “We have been building infrastructure, renovating labs and recruiting some very capable and talented new faculty and outstanding Ph.D. graduate students to the campus to make this possible.”

Under the research plan, WVU is now placing new emphasis on projects that measure the impact of medical interventions and policies on large populations.

NIH posts data on research funding to its website at: http://report.nih.gov/index.aspx.

The agency no longer ranks medical schools by dollar amounts. School-by-school rankings have been compiled by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research and are available at  http://www.brimr.org/NIH_Awards/NIH_Awards.htm.

For information on WVU Health Sciences research see http://www.hsc.wvu.edu/som/resoff/.




For more information:
Amy Johns, HSC News Service, 304-293-7087
xx/asj: 04-28-09

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