NIH Grants to URMC Researchers Up 13.8 Percent

May 07, 2003

Figures reported by the National Institutes of Health show that researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center received a record $122.4 million in research grants in fiscal year 2002, up 13.8 percent from 2001. The figure represents a 60.8 percent increase in research funding since the Medical Center opened the Arthur Kornberg Medical Research Building in 1999 and hired the first of 100 scientists in a planned 10-year, $550 million expansion of its medical research programs.

Since the opening of the Kornberg building and a second research building last year, the Medical Center has recruited 67 Ph.D.-level scientists from around the nation to work in its new facilities. In the process, it has emerged as a hub for medical research in upstate New York: In 2002, URMC researchers conducted nearly twice as many research projects and received more than twice as much funding as their counterparts at academic medical centers in Buffalo, Syracuse and Albany combined.

Research laboratories occupy more than 1 million square feet of space across seven buildings on the Medical Center’s Elmwood Avenue campus. More than 2,500 people at the Medical Center are employed as medical researchers including physicians, molecular biologists, statisticians, technicians, and other support personnel. Nearly all of the physicians who conduct research at the Medical Center also care for patients at Strong Memorial Hospital and its outpatient facilities.

URMC researchers received 352 grants from the National Institutes of Health last year. The grants ranged in size from $21,000 for the development of a breast cancer imaging technique that can distinguish between cancerous and noncancerous lesions earlier than mammography, to $1.8 million to fund clinical trials of new AIDS drugs and vaccines. Other research highlights included:

· Heart Disease: $8.1 million in funding for 20 research projects, including a study to pinpoint the genetic differences that may signal who is at risk for recurrent heart attacks.

· Neurology: $7.8 million for 25 projects in areas such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Among the nation’s 125 medical schools, Rochester ranked 3rd in the nation in research funding for Neurology.

· Orthopaedics: $1.9 million for projects to study osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and ways that cancer spreads from internal organs to bones. Rochester ranked 4th in the nation in research funding for Orthopaedics.

· Microbiology and Immunology: $11.1 million for 39 research projects to study HIV and other infectious diseases, and for the development and testing of new vaccines. Rochester ranked 11th in the nation in research funding for Microbiology and Immunology.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the world’s largest provider of grant funding to medical researchers. The NIH awarded $23.5 billion in research grants last year, primarily to scientists at U.S. universities.

"We’re delighted by both our steady increase in research funding, and by the caliber of science being conducted by our researchers," said Medical Center CEO Jay H. Stein, M.D. "The increased funding and increased attention from NIH is evidence that Rochester is equipped to tackle some of the toughest problems in medicine and in basic science. I can’t speak highly enough about the hundreds of scientists on our faculty whose hard work has produced that reputation for this institution."

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