UCSF Tops Public Institutions in NIH Funding, Ranks Second Overall

April 07, 2010
News Office: Kristen Bole (415) 502-6397

UCSF received more research funds from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) than any other public institution in 2009, and received the second largest amount of all institutions nationwide, according to new figures released by the NIH. The UCSF School of Pharmacy, specifically, ranked first in its field in NIH support for the 30th consecutive year.

The federal funding plays a vital role in fueling UCSF's biomedical research enterprise, in which scientists study the genetic, molecular and cellular basis of diseases and carry out epidemiological and clinical-research studies, working to develop treatments and cures. This research has led to UCSF scientists being among the most prolific publishers of scientific discoveries worldwide.

"Federal funding drives biomedical sciences at UCSF and allows for important discoveries that enable improvements in health that impact not only our nation, but humanity worldwide," says UCSF Chancellor Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann.

UCSF received more than $463 million for research and training grants, fellowships and other awards in 2009. In 2008, UCSF also ranked second in the nation, at $444 million. The figures do not include NIH research contracts or funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, both of which the NIH tallies separately.

The UCSF School of Pharmacy received nearly $19 million in NIH funding in 2009, while the UCSF School of Dentistry, School of Medicine and School of Nursing all ranked second nationally in their fields. The School of Dentistry received more than $15.5 million in NIH research support; the School of Medicine $409 million; and the School of Nursing, $8.8 million.

The UCSF School of Medicine also received another $8.7 million in overall medical grants, which are listed separately by the NIH, for a total of $417.7 million.

UCSF overall and each of its schools have ranked within the top four institutions and related schools nationally in total NIH funding for more than a decade. Its schools of Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy have ranked first or second for several decades.

These successes occur against a backdrop of increasing competition for NIH grants, which are awarded to only a fraction of the scientists who apply for funding, says Desmond-Hellmann.

"In light of the extremely challenging funding environment, this broad-based support of UCSF research is testament to the caliber of scientific discovery occurring in each of our schools," she said.

The federal support has enabled UCSF scientists to pursue scientific questions that have led to several Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine. Last year, a UCSF scientist was honored for co-discovering an enzyme known as telomerase (tel-AH-mer-AZE) that is now a target for treating age-related diseases and cancer and for measuring the impact of stress on cells. In 1997, a UCSF scientist was honored for discovering a protein known as a prion (PREE-on) that causes rare, neurodegenerative diseases, a finding that has informed scientists' understanding of such brain diseases as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

In 1989, two other UCSF scientists received the Nobel Prize for co-discovering proto-oncogenes, normal genes that have the potential to convert to cancer genes. The discovery transformed the way scientists look at cancer and has led to new strategies for detection and treatment of the disease.

The federal funding also supports the local and regional economy, Desmond-Hellmann said, via the scientists' spending on materials, instruments and technical staff for their laboratories; the patents and scientific advances the research generates; and the related industries, such as biotechnology, that it fuels.

According to data posted by the NIH, the top five recipients of its FY 2009 research funding were as follows.

Overall institutions:

  • 1. Johns Hopkins University ($603.4 million)
  • 2. UCSF ($463.3 million)
  • 3. University of Pennsylvania ($454.9 million)
  • 4. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor ($454.2 million)
  • 5. University of Pittsburgh ($418.0 million)

Schools of Dentistry:

  • 1. University of Pennsylvania ($19.4 million)
  • 2. UCSF ($15.5 million)
  • 3. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor ($12.6 million)
  • 4. University of Florida ($11.1 million)
  • 5. Boston University Medical Campus ($10.2 million)

Schools of Medicine:

  • 1. Johns Hopkins University ($434.9 million)
  • 2. UCSF ($409.0 million, plus $8.7 million in "overall medical grants")
  • 3. University of Pennsylvania ($368.8 million)
  • 4. Washington University ($357.8 million)
  • 5. Yale University ($322.7 million)

Schools of Nursing:

  • 1. University of Pennsylvania ($10.9 million)
  • 2. UCSF ($8.8 million)
  • 3. University of Washington ($8.5 million)
  • 4. Johns Hopkins University ($7.0 million)
  • 5. University of Pittsburgh ($6.8 million)

Schools of Pharmacy:

  • 1. UCSF ($18.9 million)
  • 2. University of Kansas, Lawrence ($17.8 million)
  • 3. University of N. Carolina, Chapel Hill ($16.8 million)
  • 4. University of Utah ($10.7 million)
  • 5. University of Illinois, Chicago ($10.2 million)

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions and excellence in patient care. For more information, visit www.ucsf.edu.

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