March 10, 2000

VUMC among national leaders in NIH funding

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Nuclear Medicine Technologist Chris Smith administers a bone-density screen to patient Judy Bloeser. (photo by Dana Johnson)

VUMC among national leaders in NIH funding

Once again, Vanderbilt University Medical Center is among the leading academic medical centers in the nation when it comes to funding from the National Institutes of Health.

VUMC ranked 25th out of 123 medical schools based on funds received from NIH grants during 1999.

Four of the basic science departments were in the top ranks relative to their peer departments across the country. Pharmacology was number one, Cell Biology and Molecular Physiology and Biophysics were fourth, and Biochemistry ranked fifth.

The Clinical Research Center was seventh among the nation's 76 CRCs.

Several clinical departments, including Anesthesiology, Medicine, Radiology, Preventive Medicine, and Surgery improved in the rankings, with increases in funding ranging from 30 percent to 130 percent.

"We are pleased that our basic science departments continue their national leadership in achieving funding from the NIH, as this is one important measure of how the problems we choose to solve and the success and quality with which we solve them is viewed by our peers," said Lee E. Limbird, Ph.D., associate vice chancellor for Research.

"We also take pride in the increased ranking of several of our clinical departments, as the institution will never achieve our desired recognition as one of the top ten academic health centers unless our clinical departments have research programs — clinical, translational, or basic — that also attain top competitiveness in NIH funding."

Limbird cautioned, however, against putting too much emphasis on the NIH funding rankings.

"It is important to keep things in perspective," she said. "Although we must be a leader in achieving NIH funding, that goal alone is not sufficient to be one of the leading academic health centers, and to be part of the thought leadership of our country in research, training, and health care.

"Our national leadership will depend on unrelenting quality in everything that we do, something that is hard to quantify but must never move from our center of focus."