UCSF School of Pharmacy leads in NIH funding for the 42nd straight year

In 2021, and for the 42nd consecutive year, the UCSF School of Pharmacy received more research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) than any other pharmacy school in the nation. The School’s $39,453,841 in funding approximated that of the second- and third-ranked pharmacy schools combined.

The funds, comprising 80 grants spread across the School’s Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, and Department of Clinical Pharmacy, supported research on topics ranging from the genetic underpinnings of psychiatric illness to improved drug therapies for malaria. The UCSF Quantitative Biosciences Institute (QBI), an Organized Research Unit in the School, also brought in millions in additional NIH funds.

UCSF as a whole received over $709 million in NIH funds—setting a new record for the most NIH research dollars brought in by any public research institution in the U.S. in a single year.

School rankings are compiled by the independent Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research, based on the most current NIH data.

“The faculty of our School consistently produce the bold and innovative ideas necessary to meet both present and future challenges in biomedicine,” said Thomas Kearney, PharmD, interim dean of the UCSF School of Pharmacy. “These numbers are a testament to our research community’s ongoing commitment to discovery and patient care.”

Top School recipients of NIH funds

Nadav Ahituv, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, $2,074,900

Nadav Ahituv, PhD, is a leading expert on non-coding DNA—the genetic material surrounding our genes that plays important roles in cellular function, and therefore, both health and disease. He is working to understand the overall function of non-coding DNA while also using it to probe the roots of psychiatric illness.

Su Guo, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, $1,866,405

Su Guo, PhD, is investigating how genes influence the development of the brain, with the ultimate goal of understanding a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders.

Zev Gartner, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, $1,865,793

Zev Gartner, PhD, is studying the cellular organization of tissues in health and disease. He is applying insights from this work to lay a foundation for future drug and regenerative therapies.

Bo Huang, PhD, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, $1,710,277

Bo Huang, PhD, is applying modern microscopy techniques to follow the movement of proteins inside of cells, shedding light on how these processes influence cell biology.

Tejal Desai, PhD, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, $1,277,469

Tejal Desai, PhD, directs the UCSF-UC Berkeley Graduate Program in Bioengineering, which trains scientists to apply engineering to the fields of biology and medicine. She is also applying her expertise to understand the physical forces that contribute to tissue repair following heart failure.

QBI director leads team-based efforts to accelerate biomedical science

Group in conference room
Susan Merrell

Nevan Krogan, PhD (standing), leads a meeting of the QBI Coronavirus Research Group with fellow UCSF faculty members (seated from left) Danica Galonić Fujimori, PhD; Natalia Jura, PhD; James Fraser, PhD; and David Agard, PhD.

Nevan Krogan, PhD, founded the UCSF Quantitative Biosciences Institute (QBI) with the goal of breaking down silos between the scientific disciplines. Just under six years young, the institute has consistently united scientists from across the globe to effectively tackle biomedical challenges ranging from viral disease, like HIV and COVID-19, to cancer.

In the last year, Krogan and QBI brought in $11,135,994 in NIH funds to fuel this multi-disciplinary work. Krogan also received an additional $3 million, as a faculty member in the School of Medicine, to support QBI’s Host Pathogen Mapping Initiative. These funds will support the organization’s efforts to leverage proteomics—the large-scale study of proteins—to unearth discoveries that pave the way for new disease treatments.


School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, PharmD Degree Program

About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy aims to solve the most pressing health care problems and strives to ensure that each patient receives the safest, most effective treatments. Our discoveries seed the development of novel therapies, and our researchers consistently lead the nation in NIH funding. The School’s doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree program, with its unique emphasis on scientific thinking, prepares students to be critical thinkers and leaders in their field.