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UCSF Team to Devise Strategy for Going After NIH Stimulus Funds

By Robin Hindery

Jeffrey Bluestone

In the coming weeks, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will formalize its plans for spending $10.4 billion in federal economic stimulus funding as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. During that time, a newly formed team of prominent UCSF faculty and administrators will lead a campuswide effort to ensure that the University continues to be a leading recipient of NIH support. The schools of dentistry, nursing and pharmacy were all first in the nation in receipt of NIH funding; the campus as a whole and the medical school both ranked third, and first among all public institutions in 2008. The seven-person stimulus response team was appointed by UCSF Chancellor Mike Bishop, MD, and will be led by Jeffrey Bluestone, PhD, UCSF’s interim vice chancellor for research and director of the UCSF Diabetes Center. Its goal is to “help define and identify opportunities for funding,” Bluestone wrote in a March 2 email message announcing the formation of the team, which he described as a sort of “matchmaking service to coordinate needs and strengthen overall requests.” More than $8 billion of the NIH stimulus money will go directly toward what the NIH is best known for – financing research – while the rest will pay for the construction of new facilities. UCSF has a number of projects in the pipeline, including construction of a new stem cell research center at Parnassus Heights. What’s unusual about the funding is that every dollar must be spent over the next two years. As a result, once the NIH unveils its approach to doling out the funds, “there will be rapid action needed from the UCSF campus and individual investigators,” Bluestone said. In addition, he said, increased congressional oversight of how the money is portioned out will lead to more intense scrutiny of all funding applications. The stimulus response team will begin by contacting faculty members to discuss supplemental grant applications and determine any shared instrument and equipment needs, Bluestone said. He and his colleagues will also create a website to solicit ideas and provide updates on funding opportunities and regulations as they become available. In addition to Bluestone, the team consists of Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, PharmD, dean of the School of Pharmacy; Keith Yamamoto, PhD, executive vice dean of the School of Medicine; Erik Lium, PhD, director of contracts and grants in the Office of Sponsored Research; Lori Yamauchi, assistant vice chancellor of Campus Planning; Angela Hawkins, executive director of Budget and Resource Management; and Clay Johnston, MD, PhD, director of the UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute. The team will report to Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Eugene Washington, MD. The NIH conducts and supports biomedical and behavioral research through more than 3,000 US institutions – including UCSF – that conduct the best science in pursuit of improving the length and quality of the lives of people, while stimulating the economy. For more information, read this letter (pdf) from the Acting NID Director. NIH is working closely with the Department of Health and Human Services’ Recovery Act implementation team to ensure transparency and accountability for their Recovery Act funds. As NIH spending plans are approved, NIH will post information about these critical projects and their impact on the economy at www.hhs.gov/recovery. Photo by Christine Jegan

Related Links:

NIH’s Role in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)
National Institutes of Health Website, Feb. 27, 2009

UCSF Researchers Hope for Hearty Portion of New NIH Funds
UCSF Today, Feb. 20, 2009