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October 8, 2001

Funding continues to climb in FY01

By Jan Gleason


Emory’s growth in garnering sponsored research funding continued on its upward trajectory in fiscal year 2001, increasing by 14 percent to $247.9 million. In the past five years, the value of sponsored research has risen 57 percent putting Emory among the fastest-growing research universities in the country.

“Even though we’re growing at an amazing pace, our competition is growing just as fast,” said Frank Stout, vice president for research. “We are among the top institutions who have the faculty expertise in research, but so do a lot of other top schools.”

Stout cited the Georgia political leadership as one of the additional drivers of Emory’s growth in receiving extramural sources of sponsored research and training dollars. “From HOPE scholarships to funding for the Georgia Research Alliance to Gov. Roy Barnes’ Georgia Cancer Coalition, we receive tremendous support for teaching, research and scholarship. Most other states don’t have that kind of leadership.”

The School of Medicine received $167.3 million, a 13 percent increase over last year. At No. 23 in the nation in terms of National Insitutes of Health (NIH) funding this year, the medical school is among the very top institutions in terms of rate of growth and the only school in the top 40 to have risen in rank more than 10 positions over the past decade, according to Bob Rich, executive associate dean for research. He believes this rate of growth and the enhanced research environment at Emory means it would be possible to move to the level of the top ten research schools within the next ten years.

In other areas, Yerkes received $36.2 million, a 31 percent increase; the Rollins School of Public Health received $25.7 million, a 2 percent increase; and Emory College received $14 million, a 9 percent increase. The biggest percentage increase was the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing which more than doubled its research funding, to $3.3 million, and moved from 37 to 20 in terms of NIH funding to nursing schools.

Total funding obtained through units associated with the Woodruff Health Sciences Center was $232.9 million (94 percent) of the total. “This is not atypical of the distribution of research funding nationally,” Stout said. “The public determines to a large extent where research dollars will go through its funding of federal agencies. We care about all the things that kill us or hinder the quality of our lives.”

“These numbers are a tribute to our brilliant faculty, their vision and determination to succeed, even in the midst of tremendous economic pressures on the country’s academic health sciences centers,” said Michael Johns, executive vice president of health affairs. He also pointed out these successes took place within severe research space limitations that will be erased, at least temporarily, by the

Whitehead Biomedical Research Building, Winship Cancer Institute Building, and other research construction and renovations finished or in process. Other strong omens for future growth include the establishment this year of a clinical trials office, addition of new core laboratory facilities and strong recruits in cancer, neuroscience, and other areas.

The federal government awarded $192 million of the total, about 78 percent of the total, up 16 percent from last year.

Of the federal agencies, the NIH was again Emory’s largest sponsor of research. It awarded $155.3 million, accounting for 81 percent of all federal dollars and 62 percent of all funding received by Emory.

“Our increase is also fairly well aligned with the percentage of budget increase the NIH received this year,” Stout said.

About 1,500 institutions receive NIH funding, but Stout said only about 100 have faculty with the knowledge and ability to undertake major research activities.

He went on to say that research volume is typically defined by externally sponsored funding, but there simply are few sources of funding available for the humanities or arts.

“If you think about research as also being scholarship—the search for knowledge—there is much more activity than shows up in these hard numbers,” Stout said. “That’s one area the ‘Research at Emory’ commission will be examining.”

Sponsored research funding has been one of the few revenue sources to increase in recent years. In the next three years, some 500,000 square feet of new research space will open at Emory in the Whitehead, Winship and Science 2000, Phase II projects, paving the way for even more growth.

“Many departments are already recruiting since they’ll now have additional research space,” Stout said. “We will see growth in several research areas—genomics, bioinfomatics, protonmics and cancer—but these programs are enormously expensive to operate. The challenge for Emory will be to determine a focus for its research efforts.”


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