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School #1 in NIH Funding, 26th Year
But shrinking research dollars jeopardize public well-being
By UCSF School of Pharmacy Editorial Staff / Wed Oct 11, 2006
For the 26th consecutive year, the UCSF School of Pharmacy ranks first among US pharmacy schools in contract and grant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), according to figures for fiscal year 2005. This outstanding track record of success reflects the high caliber of the School's science, agree both Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, PharmD, dean of the School and Ken Dill, PhD, School faculty member and associate dean for research. The success of the School's science, however, belies a national failure to support science overall, according to Dill in this commentary:
"The fact that our NIH funding remains consistently in the top tier of competitive funding speaks to the high quality of our science and scientists. However, while we are pleased with these successes, we are concerned with the bleak current situation in the federal funding of biomedical research.
"The NIH budget has been flat for the past 3 years, so it is now harder to support important research. Whereas 4 years ago, the best 25% of proposals were funded, now only the best 10 to 15% are funded. It is particularly tough on young faculty members, whose energy and ideas are essential fuel for tomorrow's biomedical research engine.
"Moreover, we are in an era of greater research opportunities than ever before, thanks to our growing understanding of biology. Some of our biggest opportunities could come through harnessing the allied disciplines, to use a phrase of Harold Varmus, MD, former UCSF faculty member and NIH director.
"Treating disease is increasingly about new medicines. And discovering new medicines is increasingly about physics and chemistry. To accelerate drug discovery, the nation's biological research enterprise needs to attract and train physical and mathematical and chemical scientists.
"In addition, we need new mechanisms for deeper innovation. The tools and methods and models that will be most important to us in 20 years are probably ones that no one has thought of yet. We need make sure we don't lose the 'search' in our research.
"In short, shrinking NIH research dollars will hamper the science that we need to improve the health and lives of Americans, and to bolster U.S. economic competitiveness."
About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy is a premier graduate-level academic organization dedicated to improving health through precise therapeutics. It succeeds through innovative research, by educating PharmD health professional and PhD science students, and by caring for the therapeutics needs of patients while exploring innovative new models of patient care. The School was founded in 1872 as the first pharmacy school in the American West. It is an integral part of UC San Francisco, a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide.