ANN ARBOR, Mich. - University of Michigan doctors and biomedical scientists battled an extremely tough funding climate to earn more than $301 million in National Institutes of Health research funding in federal fiscal year 2008. In all, U-M's Medical School brought in more than $412 million in research funding from all sources.
And each dollar of those grants had an amplified effect on the regional economy, providing additional economic benefit for the state.
The record-setting achievement, based on data published on the NIH's web site, launches the U-M Medical School well into the national top 10 in terms of NIH grants awarded to medical schools. UMMS ranked 7th overall, and second among medical schools affiliated with public universities, in NIH grants.
The performance means that UMMS research on human health and health care will continue to make a major impact not only on medical care and scientific understanding of human disease - but also on the struggling regional economy.
"This achievement is a true milestone for our school, and represents the culmination of intense effort by thousands of our faculty, staff, trainees and students," says U-M Medical School Dean James O. Woolliscroft, M.D.
"Especially in the current tight funding climate that we and all medical schools face, the entire U-M Medical School community should take pride in topping $300 million in NIH funds for the first time, and in ranking firmly in the national top 10," Woolliscroft says. "As these grant funds are spent over the next few years, they will have a net benefit on the economy estimated at $700 million."
Every dollar of funding brought in by U-M researchers has an economic ripple effect, through local spending by the scientists, staff and students whose salaries and research activities are funded by the grants, as well as the purchase of supplies and ancillary services provided by U-M units and others who keep laboratories running.
In addition, U-M medical research discoveries frequently lead to patents, technology transfer agreements with industry, and new startup life sciences companies. In the U-M 2008 fiscal year that ended June 30, U-M Health System faculty disclosed 133 new inventions.
The total UMMS fiscal 2008 NIH award amount comes from 712 different grants. They include research grants that directly support the cost of doing laboratory and clinical studies; clinical cooperative agreements that support multi-center studies of new medical treatments; training grants that fund the graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who play key roles on research teams while pursuing their education; career development awards that help launch young scientists' research; and core grants that support major U-M medical research centers and institutes.
NIH contracts are not included in the $301 million total, nor are NIH grants to other units of U-M. Other areas of U-M also receive NIH funding, for a total of $428 million across the University.
UMMS Senior Associate Dean for Research Steven Kunkel, Ph.D
., notes that researchers compete for each individual NIH grant separately, through an application process in which U-M teams vie with dozens or hundreds of other applicants from around the country. Grants may range in size from a few thousand dollars to tens of millions of dollars.
"In all, in 2008 our researchers brought to Michigan a total of 2.73 percent of all funding that NIH awarded to all American medical schools, an increase from last year," says Kunkel. "To have a growing share of the pie in this climate is further testament to our research community's abilities."
He indicates that as the NIH budget has stayed flat, or barely kept pace with inflation, the odds that any particular grant will be funded have declined substantially. Changes to the NIH funding process in the current fiscal year may make competition even keener.
NIH grants make up the vast majority of all research funds to the Medical School. But funds from other federal and state agencies, gifts from private donors and support from industry, foundations and the Medical School's endowment are increasingly important given the NIH funding climate.
In all, U-M Medical School research funding awards from all sources totaled $412.6 million in fiscal 2008, an increase of 11.38 percent between fiscal years 2007 and 2008. In fiscal year 2008, UMMS grants from all federal government sources, including NIH, totaled $339.6 million. Funding from industry added up to $33.3 million, non-profit organizations provided $29.3 million, state and local governments provided $2.7 million, and other sources contributed $7.7 million.
Donors such as A. Alfred Taubman, Bill and Dee Brehm and thousands of others who give to specific research projects and programs help Medical School researchers leverage their NIH funding, or perform experiments that yield the data they need to compete for new NIH grants.
One of the Medical School's largest NIH grants is the $55 million, five-year Clinical Translational Science Award that funds a broad array of research services and programs that all U-M biomedical researchers can access. It is one of only 38 awarded to medical schools across the country.
UMMS is also home to the headquarters of the Southwest Oncology Group, one of the largest cancer clinical trials cooperative groups in the nation. SWOG's core grant, from the National Cancer Institute (one of the National Institutes of Health) is administered by UMMS and is the largest NIH grant to U-M. Much of the grant is spent by participating SWOG researchers around the U.S.
Other major NIH grants to UMMS include the core grant for the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, which is also awarded by NCI and is the third largest of its kind in the country.
In addition to tracking NIH awards by federal fiscal year, U-M also tracks research expenditures by year - a measure of how the grant dollars and other funds are actually spent during the University's own fiscal year. In U-M fiscal year 2008, NIH-funded research expenditures by U-M totaled $393 million, out of a total of $876 million in research spending from all sources. More information on research expenditures is available at www.ns.umich.edu/htdocs/releases/story.php?id=6765
The overall economic impact of medical schools and academic medical centers has been estimated
by the Association of American Medical Colleges to be $451.6 billion nationally in 2005. Although that report did not specifically calculate the impact of research funding on the local economy, it did project that every dollar spent by a medical school or teaching hospital indirectly generates an additional $1.30 in impact, resulting in a total impact of $2.30 per dollar spent.
Written by Kara Gavin