UCSF Tops Medical Schools, Public Institutions In NIH Research Funds

By Kristen Bole

UC San Francisco ranked second among all institutions last year in biomedical research grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and was the top public recipient, while its School of Medicine led all schools in NIH grants nationwide, according to annual figures posted by the NIH.

These funds – nearly $521.3 million in total through contracts and grants – enable UCSF scientists to continue their pioneering efforts to understand the underlying causes of such diseases as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, HIV, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, and to work to develop improved therapies for patients.

The NIH is the largest source of funding for medical research in the world granting more than 80 percent of its budget to researchers in more than 2,500 universities and research institutions in every state across America and around the world.

The funding, considered a strong indicator of an institution’s strength in biomedical research, enables UCSF to deliver on its public mission of advancing health worldwide.

All four of UCSF’s professional schools were among the leading schools in their fields in receiving these highly competitive grants, with the School of Medicine receiving the most funding in medicine for the first time, at $448.7.2 million for fiscal year 2012, to support research, training and fellowships. In 2011, the medical school ranked second.

The UCSF schools of pharmacy and of dentistry also ranked first in their fields in NIH grants for 2012: pharmacy for the 33rd consecutive year, with $31.6 million; and dentistry for the 21st year, with $13.7 million. The UCSF School of Nursing ranked second, with $8.1 million in grants. All told, UCSF received $500.4 million total in grants, with an additional $20.8 million in NIH contracts, for which UCSF scientists compete to perform specific research projects for the national institutes.

“This funding is the lifeblood of biomedical research nationwide and is critical for advancing knowledge in human health,” said UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH. “At UCSF, these grants are supporting the work of our scientists as they address the most pressing questions across the health sciences and work to translate those into more precise care for people around the world.”

The rankings reflect the breadth and scale of UCSF’s excellence across education and research in multiple health-science arenas, as well as the scale of the University’s $1 billion research enterprise.

They also reflect UCSF’s robust research program that could bear the impact of the $1.55 billion in federal budget cuts for the NIH this year, known as sequestration, and the potential impact the reductions would have on both translating research into new therapies for patients and in supporting the scientific leaders of the future, she said.

At UCSF, these grants are supporting the work of our scientists as they address the most pressing questions across the health sciences and work to translate those into more precise care for people around the world.

UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH

The NIH grants play a key role in supporting UCSF’s graduate-level biomedical enterprise, including research into the genetic, molecular and cellular basis of diseases, epidemiological and clinical-research studies, and efforts to translate science into better care. That research has led to five UCSF faculty members receiving the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, including last year’s recipient, Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, a stem cell researcher at the UCSF-affiliated Gladstone Institutes.

“NIH funding has led to powerful scientific advances over the years, but also is supporting translational research that tackles the most difficult diseases and promotes health into the future,” said Jeffrey A. Bluestone, PhD, UCSF’s executive vice chancellor and provost, who leads the University’s research and educational enterprises.

“These grants also play a tremendous role in helping innovative young scientists launch their research careers,” Bluestone said. “These are the scientific leaders of the future, the people who will make a difference for all of us in the years to come.”

UCSF received 1,140 grants in fiscal year 2012 for scientific projects ranging from understanding Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and AIDS, to training the next leaders in bioengineering. In 2011, UCSF also was the largest public recipient, with 1,056 grants valued at $474.8 million.

UCSF has ranked among the nation’s top institutions in NIH funding for more than two decades, as have all of its schools. Federal funding buoys the local and regional economy, Desmond-Hellmann said, as the University purchases materials and instruments and creates high-quality jobs for laboratory staff. Other economic engines include patents and scientific advances generated by NIH-funded research and related industries, such as biotechnology, as well as the entrepreneurs who launch companies based on research conducted at UCSF.

Current NIH data list the top five recipients of Fiscal Year 2012 research grants as follows, not including research contracts or ARRA grants. School rankings are compiled by the independent Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research:

Schools of Medicine:

  1. UCSF ($448.7 million) (plus $17.6 million in contracts)
  2. Johns Hopkins University ($433.1 million)
  3. University of Pennsylvania ($388.2million)
  4. Washington University ($360.2 million)
  5. Yale University ($339.7 million)

Schools of Pharmacy:

  1. UCSF ($31.6 million) (plus $1.4 million in contracts)
  2. University of Kansas, Lawrence ($19.2 million)
  3. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill ($13.4 million)
  4. University of Utah ($9.7 million)
  5. University of Colorado, Denver ($8.8 million)

Schools of Dentistry & Oral Hygiene:

  1. UCSF ($13.7 million) (plus $1.9 million in contracts)
  2. University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ($13.0 million)
  3. University of Alabama at Birmingham ($12.7 million)
  4. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill ($11.1 million)
  5. University of Southern California ($9.2 million)

Schools of Nursing:

  1. Johns Hopkins University ($8.6 million)
  2. UCSF ($8.1 million)
  3. University of Pittsburgh at Pittsburgh ($7.61 million)
  4. University of Washington ($7.57 million)
  5. New York University ($6.9 million)

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care.