UCSF Schools Lead Nation Again In NIH Biomedical Research Funds

Two researchers work in the lab at the Helen Diller Comprehesive Cancer Center

For the second year in a row, UC San Francisco’s four schools topped the nation in federal biomedical research funding in their fields in 2014, with the graduate-level university as a whole receiving the most of any public recipient and second most overall in funds from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), according to annual NIH figures.

Following the Money

See a few highlights of how the National Institutes of Health funds support UCSF researchers in changing the way we approach health and health care.

These highly competitive funds, which totaled nearly $546.6 million at UCSF through contracts and grants combined, reflect the caliber of research on campus. Through the UCSF schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy, and the graduate division, these funds enable UCSF scientists to advance understanding of the underlying causes of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, HIV, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, and others, and work to develop improved therapies for them.

 “The projects these funds support at UCSF are driving advances in the biomedical sciences, from fundamental, curiosity-driven science to the application of those discoveries to patient care and populations, to training the next generation of scientists and health care professionals to carry those innovations forward,” said UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS. “NIH funding is the lifeblood of that research and the heart of efforts by our faculty, staff, students and trainees to collectively transform health.”

The UCSF School of Medicine topped the list of NIH funding for medical schools for the third year in a row, at $480.6 million for fiscal year 2014, supporting research, graduate-student training and fellowships for postdoctoral scholars.

The UCSF schools of Pharmacy, Dentistry and Nursing also ranked first in their fields in NIH grants for 2014: Pharmacy for the 35th consecutive year, with $31.8 million in grants; Dentistry for the 23rd year, with $15.5 million; and Nursing for the 10th time in the last dozen years, with $10.1 million.

All told, UCSF received more than $538.1 million total in grants, with an additional $8.5 million in NIH contracts, for which UCSF scientists compete to perform specific research projects for the national institutes.

The rankings reflect UCSF’s expertise in research and education across multiple health-science arenas, as well as the size of the university’s $1.3 billion scientific enterprise. The funding, considered a strong indicator of the quality of an institution’s research, enables UCSF to deliver on its public mission of working to transform health worldwide, while generating more than $6.2 billion in economic benefit to the local economy through jobs, new companies and products, and direct health care to the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.

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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. In addition to supporting powerful scientific advances in research institutions nationwide, these grants also play a tremendous role in helping innovative young scientists launch their research careers.

“In the past year, our graduate students and postdocs played key roles in discoveries in areas like the human microbiome, cancer immunotherapy and genome editing,” said Elizabeth Watkins, PhD, dean of the UCSF Graduate Division and vice chancellor of Student Academic Affairs. “These funds are critical in supporting the early careers of those future scientific leaders, and instrumental in supporting the discoveries they make.”

UCSF received 1,210 grants in fiscal year 2014, which includes more than $22.4 million in training grants and $84.9 million for research centers on campus. In 2013, UCSF also was the largest public recipient, with 1,174 grants valued at $501.7 million.

UCSF has been among the nation’s top institutions in NIH funding for more than two decades, as have its four schools. Federal funding also buoys the local and regional economy, as the scientists purchase materials and instruments and employ 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 on campus.

Current NIH data list the top five recipients of FY 2014 research grants as follows, for both institutions and medical schools, not including research contracts. Additional school rankings are compiled by the independent Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research.

NIH Grants by School Type, 2014