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KU Medical Center jumps in medicinal research money ranks

Both the KU Medical Center and KU as a whole have climbed in rankings of research spending. The medical center climbed eight spots in the recently released research spending ratings of schools of medicine, compiled by the National Institutes of Health, and KU climbed to 44th overall in science and engineering research spending.

The ratings come at a time of unprecedented stagnation in federal research funding.

The KU Medical Center rose eight spots to 68th in the nation among all schools of medicine based on total National Institutes of Health grant awards. Among public institutions, it rose from 47th to 39th. This signifies tremendous growth from just two years ago, when the medical center was ranked 81st in the country. In addition, with one exception, all of the school's basic science departments are in the top 25 for public medical schools. Two of the departments are ranked in the top 10, with anatomy third and physiology ninth. Rankings are based on National Institutes of Health fiscal year 2007, in which the KU School of Medicine was awarded $45.3 million.

"At a time when federal NIH funding remains flat, KU School of Medicine faculty continue to secure new funding for life sciences research," said Barbara Atkinson, executive vice chancellor of KU Medical Center and executive dean of the School of Medicine. "These improved rankings mean we're not only recruiting new, world-class talent to our campus, but our faculty continue to conduct meaningful research aimed at improving the health of our region."

Paul Terranova, vice chancellor for research at the KU Medical Center, said the university as a whole is well positioned for more growth.

"A high priority for the National Institutes of Health is to translate laboratory discoveries into real-world cures," Terranova said. "KU has the researchers, the infrastructure and the mandate to achieve that goal. The bi-campus KU Cancer Center is just one example. KU has a great opportunity to benefit society as we increase our level of research."

Among the top 100 universities on the list, KU was one of 55 whose federally funded science and engineering research increased in the last fiscal year.

On the whole, KU faculty vied effectively for sought-after research dollars and boosted the university to the 44th place in National Science Foundation rankings. The ranking for the 2007 fiscal year is one spot higher than the university placed in 2006. Total KU research spending from all grants and contracts exceeded $193 million in fiscal year 2007. KU's leading sources of federal research funding were the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Heath and the U.S. departments of education, health and human services, and energy.

"Our researchers are competing well nationally, and it shows," said Steve Warren, vice provost for research and graduate studies. "The rigor and importance of their research is high, and that leads to success."

In the new survey, KU's federal research spending for science and engineering totaled $115.7 million. Promising investigations into cancer, biomaterials, climate change and drug discovery accounted for KU's resilience during a tough time for all researchers who depend upon federal support.

According to the National Science Foundation, after adjusting for inflation, fiscal year 2007 saw a 1.6 percent decline in federal science and engineering funding from fiscal year 2006. That follows a 0.2 percent decline from fiscal year 2005. A two-year drop in federal support has no precedent since the foundation began tracking science and engineering funding in 1972.

During the 2007 fiscal year, state appropriations funded 24 percent of KU's total budget, and grants and contracts provided 20 percent. Each dollar of state funding leveraged three dollars of other university revenue, including grants and contracts in support of KU research.

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