OHSU Moves Ahead In Federal Research Funding, Rankings Despite Stiff Competition, Fewer NIH Dollars

02/23/11  Portland, Ore.

OHSU School of Medicine jumps from 24th to 19th.

The Oregon Opportunity investment, a $500 million public-private partnership to expand OHSU research, continues to pay dividends by a number of measures.

According to data from the National Institutes of Health, the nation's largest public funding source for health studies, research and training awards to Oregon Health & Science University increased to $177.3 million in federal fiscal year 2006, up 3.4 percent. The OHSU School of Medicine ranking climbed to 19th in the nation, up from 24th in 2005, on the strength of awards totaling $168.3 million.

"This is a remarkable achievement by OHSU faculty in an era when federal research funding is flat or eroding," said OHSU President Joe Robertson, M.D., M.B.A. "But even more important than the rankings, or the research dollars, or even the jobs created for scientists, technicians and lab assistants, is the fact that each new research grant is an opportunity to do what OHSU is all about: improving the health of Oregonians."

OHSU School of Medicine funding for research and training grants and other awards grew 2.2 percent, while many other research institutions experienced negative growth. Total NIH awards nationwide dropped by 1 percent in FY 2006. "There is no question," Robertson added, "that the Oregon Opportunity partnership laid the groundwork for this success. This and other investments that the state of Oregon makes in OHSU are leveraged to return to Oregonians new cures, better access to cutting-edge treatments, and education for the next generation of health care professionals who will continue to improve Oregonians' ability to lead healthy lives."

The Oregon Opportunity brought together a voter-approved, one-time state investment of $200 million, plus OHSU's private fundraising campaign, which raised nearly $378 million. The Oregon Opportunity helped OHSU to recruit 80 top-tier researchers and fund construction of the Biomedical Research Building, with 274,000 square feet of state-of-the-art lab space.

"This is a tremendous validation of the Oregon Opportunity partnership between the State of Oregon and OHSU," said Gov. Ted Kulongoski. "OHSU has made significant strides forward as a national research institution and, I look forward to seeing OHSU research translated into new treatments and cures for Oregonians."

OHSU received the first installment of public Oregon Opportunity funds in late 2002 and completed the Biomedical Research Building in December 2005. "OHSU is writing the blueprint for success," said Rep. Mary Nolan, co-chair of the legislature's budget committee. "They've created momentum to produce great jobs, attract private investment and sustain livable communities."

The OHSU School of Dentistry, School of Nursing and School of Science and Engineering also continue to have success attracting NIH grants. For federal fiscal year 2006, nursing received $1.7 million, dentistry received $1.8 million, and science and engineering received $2.4 million. The OHSU College of Pharmacy, operated in collaboration with Oregon State University, also receives NIH grant support.

In addition to NIH, OHSU receives research funding from a diverse array of federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the Agency for Health Care Research & Quality, the Veterans' Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

NIH typically provides both funding data and rankings information across a number of institutional categories. This year, for the first time, NIH released only raw data and asked individual institutions to develop the rankings themselves. OHSU followed the same methodology used by NIH in past years to calculate the ranking, which is based on research and training grants and other awards. NIH has not yet released R&D contracts information for FY 2006, but contracts accounted for just $3.9 million of the School of Medicine's total awards in 2005.

"Ultimately, this is a recognition of the outstanding faculty at OHSU and their scientific achievements," said Mark Richardson, M.D., dean of the OHSU School of Medicine. "The NIH clearly sees OHSU as one of the nation's leaders in bioscience research."

"The fact that we've been able to grow our research programs despite the downward trend in federal funding is testament to OHSU's faculty as well as the power of public and private investment in research," said Daniel Dorsa, Ph.D., OHSU vice president for research. "We could not have done this without the Oregon Opportunity."