Medical Center NIH Funding Hurdles $100 Million for First Time

November 21, 2001

Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center attracted more than $100 million in fiscal year 2001 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the largest funding body devoted to supporting research aimed at curing or preventing disease. The amount of annual funding has jumped 70 percent since 1996, when the Medical Center announced a strategic plan to rejuvenate its research programs.

The $105.6 million in research funding for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2001, marks the first time in history that the Medical Center has attracted more than $100 million in NIH funding. The numbers are based on a preliminary analysis of FY2001 data; the final figures will be available early next year.

Collectively, physicians and scientists at the Medical Center brought home 347 funding awards from NIH, also a record. One take on the funding: Nearly every day of the year, on average, a Medical Center researcher was awarded funds by NIH, and every week of the year, $2 million in funding was funneled from NIH to the Medical Center because of its outstanding research reputation and the promise of continued discoveries.

Such funding primarily pays for the salaries of thousands of researchers and graduate students, and it represents one of the biggest infusions of cash into the Rochester economy each year. Because of the Medical Center's presence, Rochester attracts more funding from NIH than any other area of upstate New York.

"Thanks to the hard work and talent of our researchers, the Medical Center was able to attract more support from NIH than ever," says Medical Center CEO Jay H. Stein, M.D. "These dollars not only support the livelihood of thousands of residents of the Rochester area, but they also mark an important step in the long effort to improve human health by preventing or treating disease more effectively."

The latest numbers represent a 16.3 percent increase in funding over fiscal year 2000, when $90.8 million in NIH funding represented a 19 percent increase over the previous year. Last year's increase is slightly higher than the increase originally announced one year ago.

Among the departments with especially large increases this year:

· Psychiatry increased 98 percent to $4.4 million.

· Surgery attracted $2.1 million, an increase of 50 percent.

· Neurology jumped 39 percent to $13 million.

· Department of Medicine, whose figures include funding for the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center and the Clinical Research Center, jumped 34 percent to $24 million.

· Radiology and Radiation Oncology attracted $2.7 million, an increase of 32 percent.

· Pathology increased 30 percent, to $1.9 million.

· Biochemistry and Biophysics jumped to $8.3 million, an increase of 29 percent.

· Microbiology and Immunology increased 19 percent to $8.8 million.

Since Stein led the formation of a strategy in 1996 to bolster the Medical Center's medical research programs, the amount of annual funding has skyrocketed 70 percent. In just two years funding has gone up by more than one-third, even outstripping the rapid rate of growth of the NIH budget.

The strategic plan called for the construction of new research facilities and an international recruitment effort to augment the institution's cadre of top research scientists. Two years ago the first new research facility, the Arthur Kornberg Medical Research Building, was completed, and a second research facility will be completed early next year. In total, more than 100 researchers and 500 technicians and support personnel are being hired to work in the new facilities in the largest recruitment effort at the Medical Center since the School of Medicine and Dentistry was founded in 1924.

The expansion comes at a time when the University's intellectual property is more sought-after than ever by industry. During the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2001, companies paid $29.5 million for the rights to research in the University's laboratories, more than 10 times the amount of royalties paid just two years ago. More than two dozen high-tech companies have risen from the University's basic research in the past two decades; in the last two years alone, the University has spun off four new companies in the Rochester area.

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