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Vanderbilt ranks 12th in annual survey of NIH funding; 2021 awards topped $445M

Vanderbilt University again ranked among the nation’s top research institutions receiving funding from the National Institutes of Health, according to the latest data compiled by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research.

The total amount Vanderbilt scholars received across the School of Nursing, the School of Medicine Basic Sciences and 15 clinical sciences departments, which operate within the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, reached $445,537,839, reflecting a 31 percent increase over the past five years.

Vanderbilt has ranked among the top 12 research universities receiving NIH funding in 14 of the past 15 years. The NIH is the nation’s medical research agency and the leading supporter of biomedical research in the world.

“By accelerating research across the university, NIH funding enables us to be more bold in our aspirations as a highest-caliber academic institution,” said C. Cybele Raver, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “This year’s ranking is a positive reflection of our steep upward trajectory and increasing impact.”

“Vanderbilt’s biomedical researchers are among the top in the nation working on solving some of the world’s greatest challenges,” said Padma Raghavan, vice provost for research. “To amplify impacts from the support provided by the National Institutes of Health, we are more committed than ever in continuing to make institutional investments to drive discovery and innovation.”

Largely an indicator of an institution’s strength in biomedical research, the funding data was obtained from the Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tool from the National Institutes of Health.

Past and current NIH funding provides scholars with the necessary funds to research and treat diseases like COVID-19, explore novel treatments to disease and conduct the pathbreaking foundational research that will empower future scientists around the world to pursue new knowledge related to human health.

All four School of Medicine Basic Sciences departments ranked in the top five nationally: biochemistry ranked No. 1; cell and developmental biology and molecular physiology and biophysics both ranked third; and pharmacology ranked fifth.

In six of the clinical science departments, the School of Medicine ranked in the top 10: otolaryngology-head and neck surgery ranked No. 2; medicine and ophthalmology and visual sciences were fourth; pediatrics was sixth; and anesthesiology and urology were ninth.

“School of Medicine faculty continue to compete successfully for NIH funding to support their research. This is a tribute to their outstanding research programs, our collaborative culture and the investments the school has made in infrastructure and state-of-the-art core facilities,” said Lawrence J. Marnett, who has been dean of Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine Basic Sciences since its creation in 2016. “It is noteworthy that all four basic sciences departments are in the top five in their disciplines, which is the first time since the VU-VUMC reorganization.”

Since 2018, the School of Nursing has jumped ahead 17 rankings and increased its funding by more than $601,000.

More than 80 percent of the NIH’s budget goes to over 300,000 research personnel at more than 2,500 universities and research institutions throughout the United States. In addition, about 6,000 scientists work in NIH’s own Intramural Research laboratories, most of which are on the NIH main campus in Bethesda, Maryland. The main campus is also home to the NIH Clinical Center, the largest hospital in the world totally dedicated to clinical research.The NIH’s mission is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and apply that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life and reduce the burdens of illness and disability. Due in large measure to NIH research, a person born in the United States today can expect to live nearly 30 years longer than someone born in 1900.

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