NIH Funding: VP&S Ranks No. 5, Nursing No. 4, Mailman No. 6

Graphic of CUIMC NIH funding and Nature Index rankings

The Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons reached its highest ranking ever by ranking No. 5 among medical schools in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for the most recent federal fiscal year (FFY20), which ended Sept. 30, 2020. Funding amounts were finalized by the NIH in January 2021. Columbia’s nursing and public health schools also continue to rank among the top schools of their kind.

The School of Nursing ranked No. 4 among nursing schools, the same ranking it achieved in FFY19. The school received $9.9 million in NIH funds, a 2% increase over FFY19. Since FFY09, when it received $3.2 million, Nursing has risen from No. 15 to No. 4 in the rankings. The FFY20 awards reflect a 213% increase since 2009. The only other New York City nursing school ranked in the top 10 is NYU, which ranked No. 7.

The Mailman School of Public Health ranked No. 6, a move up from its No. 8 ranking in FFY19. For FFY20, Mailman researchers received $46 million, a 10% increase over the previous federal fiscal year.

VP&S received $496 million in NIH funding, enabling its jump from No. 9 in FFY19. Since FFY09, VP&S has moved from No. 14 to No. 5, the largest increase among the top 10 medical schools. The $496 million in NIH funding for FFY20 is an 18% increase from FFY19 and a 119% increase since FFY09, when NIH grants to VP&S totaled $227 million. Of the $496 million, $6 million was granted for COVID-19 research. Much of the COVID-19 research conducted at VP&S during 2020 was subcontracted through grants to other universities and is not reflected in the total VP&S received.

Among New York City medical schools, VP&S is the only school ranked in the top 10 in NIH funding for FFY20.

“The research excellence throughout our medical center is well-known by our researchers, physicians, students, alumni, patients, and peers and is testimony to Dean Emeritus Lee Goldman,” says Anil K. Rustgi, MD, interim executive vice president and dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine at Columbia. “Rankings confirm the rigor of our research mission and complement other rankings that put us undoubtedly among the eminent medical centers of our nation. We are motivated by our overarching mission to improve health care.”

“The sizable jump in the VP&S ranking brings considerable pride to researchers who were encouraged by Dean Emeritus Lee Goldman during his 14-year tenure as dean,” says Rudi Odeh-Ramadan, PharmD, vice dean for finance and administration. “The No. 5 ranking reflects Dr. Goldman’s vision and persistent encouragement to our researchers and also reflects the quality of our research.”

The increase in the number of grants funded occurred in spite of last year’s ramp down of research during the height of the Spring 2020 pandemic. “This shows the dedication and demonstrates the resilience of our faculty, research staff, postdoctoral research scientists/fellows, and students and also highlights the robust nature of our core facilities and our Office of Research under the leadership of Michael Shelanski,” adds Dr. Rustgi.

NIH banner photo by Michael DiVito

In FFY19, eight VP&S departments ranked in the top 10 of NIH funding. In FFY20, that number increased to 11: Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics (#1), Neurology (#2), Pathology & Cell Biology (#3), Medicine and Ophthalmology (#4), Neuroscience (#5), Dermatology and Obstetrics & Gynecology (#6), Emergency Medicine (#7), Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine (#8), and Urology (#10).

The 18% increase in NIH funding to VP&S surpassed the increase in the federal government’s appropriation to the NIH (15%).

The first months of FFY21 are off to a good start: Proposals are up 23% over the previous year. Additionally, the number of awards through the first quarter of FFY21 has increased 37%, with a 26% increase in dollars awarded. “It is still very early in the federal fiscal year,” says Dr. Odeh-Ramadan, “but the trend for another record-breaking year has been set.”

The upward trend in rankings is also seen in the annual Nature Index tables, which rank the number of scholarly publications in high-impact scientific journals. The medical center typically ranks among the top centers in the health care sector. CUIMC was No. 1 in 2018, with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in the No. 2 spot; in the 2019 ranking, UT Southwestern was No. 1, and CUIMC was No. 2.