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IU School of Medicine continues record-setting research trend; up 5 spots in National Institutes of Health rankings


­INDIANAPOLIS – For the fourth-straight year, Indiana University School of Medicine set a school record for research funding received from the National Institutes of Health, demonstrating national leadership in critical fields like Alzheimer’s disease and pediatrics and providing a major boost to the Indiana economy.

IU School of Medicine scientists and physicians were awarded over $189 million in NIH research funding in the 2019 federal fiscal year—about $40 million more than the school record from the previous year. The school’s NIH funding increased more than $80 million, or 70 percent, over the last four years.

The NIH is the lead federal agency responsible for biomedical and public health research, and NIH grants are the gold standard for researchers.

The increase propels IU School of Medicine to 14th out of 92 public medical schools that receive NIH funding and 28th out of 145 medical schools overall—up from last year’s rankings of 16th and 33rd, respectively, and both school records. Notably, the school is now ranked fifth in the country in funding from the National Institute on Aging, the NIH branch that is the primary funder of Alzheimer’s disease research. IU School of Medicine’s pediatrics program ranks sixth out of all U.S. departments of pediatrics.

“I want to extend my thanks to the faculty for their dedication and talent. This continued growth of funding from the NIH reflects the high quality of their work and how Indiana is contributing to finding solutions for some of the most challenging diseases. This work also has an immense impact on the local economy in terms of job creation and attracting biotechnology companies,” said Jay L. Hess, MD, PhD, MHSA, dean of IU School of Medicine and IU’s executive vice president for university clinical affairs. “As our research programs grow, so do the benefits to Indiana and beyond.”

According to a report by United for Medical Research, every $1 million in NIH funding awarded to Indiana researchers creates 18 jobs and $2.8 million in economic activity in 2018.

Based on that data, IU School of Medicine’s 2019 NIH funding sustains more than 3,400 jobs –2,400 within Indiana. Income from those jobs, along with spending on equipment, services and materials, generates an estimated $529 million annually in economic activity.

“Today’s record-breaking funding announcement showcases the continued journey of excellence our scientists are on,” said Anantha Shekhar, MD, PhD, executive associate dean for research affairs at IU School of Medicine and associate vice president of research and university clinical affairs at IU. “We are proud of the incredible scientific talent at Indiana University School of Medicine that is made up of career faculty and new recruits who are eager to solve some of the most difficult diseases facing society today. And we are honored that the NIH keeps recognizing their success.”

National leadership

The increased research productivity is the result of strategic investments in talent and infrastructure and demonstrates IU School of Medicine’s commitment to addressing Indiana and the nation’s most pressing health challenges, Hess said. Four of the five research studies that received the most NIH funding were for Alzheimer’s disease research, one of the school’s top priorities.

The school’s top-funded study, with more than $14 million in NIH support last year, was the Longitudinal Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Study led by Liana Apostolova, MD. It focuses on an especially devastating form of Alzheimer’s disease that afflicts patients between the ages of 40 and 65. The National Centralized Repository for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias was second, with more than $11 million. Led by Tatiana Foroud, PhD, it collects and distributes biological samples like DNA, plasma and tissue from patients with dementia for use in research locally and nationally.

Other top Alzheimer’s grants include:

The school’s Department of Pediatrics also continued its climb in the rankings. With more than $29 million in grants, it accounted for 15 percent of the school’s total NIH funding. Grants were awarded to IU School of Medicine pediatrics researchers to study congenital heart disease, severe asthma, cancer, youth substance abuse, and diabetes, among other conditions. The department is also home to a national consortium, led by Chair D. Wade Clapp, MD, focused on a common genetic mutation that causes life-threatening tumors in children.

Other key areas of research include precision genomics, a priority of the IU Precision Health Initiative Grand Challenge, cancer and global health.

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About IU School of Medicine

IU School of Medicine is the largest medical school in the U.S. and is annually ranked among the top medical schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The school offers high-quality medical education, access to leading medical research and rich campus life in nine Indiana cities, including rural and urban locations consistently recognized for livability.