September 29, 1997
Volume 50, No. 6
Since 1987, Emory has tripled sponsored research funding. In the 1997 fiscal year, University researchers brought in a record-breaking $156,996,212, an 8 percent increase over FY96. It's the first time research funding has exceeded $150 million.
"There has been a huge jump, particularly in federal support," said Nancy Wilkinson, assistant vice president for research and director of the Office of Sponsored Programs. The federal government awarded $114.9 million, or 73 percent, of that total, a 17 percent increase over last year. Much of that funding came from the National Institutes of Health, which awarded Emory $89.7 million-a 15 percent gain.
At $18.4 million, corporate sponsors accounted for 12 percent of total awards. "This year private foundation sponsorship declined, but that's not the trend we've seen historically," said Wilkinson. Private funding was down $2 million from last year and stood at $11.6, or 7 percent of the total.
As in the past, the Health Sciences Center led the way in research dollars with $142.1 million, securing 91 percent of the total. The School of Medicine is among the top 20 institutions in the amount of federal dollars awarded for research, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Grants to the medical school totaled $105.9 million in FY97, a 7 percent increase over the previous year. Other highlights include: the Rollins School at $17.1 million, down slightly (1 percent) from last year; Yerkes at $17 million, up 19 percent; and Emory College at $13.8 million, up 8 percent.
University departments that generated at least $5 million in grants were medicine ($23.8 million); psychiatry ($9.9 million); neurology ($9.1 million); Yerkes microbiology ($8.8 million); pediatrics ($7.4 million); epidemiology ($6.8 million); anatomy ($5.6 million); microbiology and immunology ($5.2 million); and chemistry ($5 million).
In FY97, Emory researchers requested $262.4 million in 1,882 proposals, 104 more than last year. Yerkes funding requests were up 51 percent over last year, Emory College requests up by 28 percent. "There's typically a nine-month lag between federal grant submissions and awards," said Wilkinson. Usually more proposals result in increased funding the following year. Emory's steady rise in grant proposals is "probably one of the main reasons we continue to grow," she said. While exact numbers vary from school to school, around 40 to 45 percent of Emory funding requests are approved, said Wilkinson.
Another bright spot was the graduate school, which saw a 205 percent funding increase over last year-from $292,000 to $892,000. That trend probably will not hold, since the school's funding requests were down significantly last year.
Despite much concern over declining federal resources, Wilkinson is optimistic about continued future success-especially in the health sciences. "We don't want to be reliant on any one specific funding source such as the federal government, but we've just been terribly successful in that arena," she said. The NIH has not been affected by federal budget cuts; its programs have continued to see increases in funding every year. The only drawback to that, said Wilkinson, is that when other grant sources dry up, institutions will look toward sponsors such as the NIH, and competition will get even fiercer.
Even so, biomedical funding is in little danger of the fate that's befallen the arts and the humanities. "Obviously, the arts and humanities have been hard hit," said Wilkinson. "We have areas in the University that are finding it increasingly difficult to get grants."
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