Sponsored awards portfolio totaled $248 million in recent fiscal year

Increase in faculty-driven core funding is strong measure of success

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Despite economic pressures on external research funding, the fiscal year 2013 sponsored research awards portfolio at Virginia Commonwealth University showed excellent performance. Sponsored awards amounted to nearly $248 million during the recent fiscal year, which officially closed on Aug. 31.

A quantitative measure of VCU’s success is found in the research funding resulting from investigator-initiated grants. This amounted to approximately $175 million in FY2012 and $186 million in FY2013, representing a 7-percent increase in the faculty-driven core funding of the VCU portfolio.

“Our FY2013 performance is a tribute to the scholarly achievements and competitiveness of our faculty,” said Francis Macrina, Ph.D., vice president for research at VCU. “This accomplishment is impressive in light of the current negative economic pressures on external research funding, especially from federal sources. Although we lost several million dollars due to cuts mandated by the federal Budget Control Act, this ‘sequestration’ did not have a meaningful effect on our robust federal portfolio.”

According to Macrina, VCU faculty continue to submit grant applications at a vigorous pace and the university is seeing increased success with multi-programmatic award opportunities.

Fiscal year 2014 started on an impressive note with a $62-million, 5-year grant from the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to study mild traumatic brain injury. Other multi-programmatic, interdisciplinary grant applications have received favorable reviews and are likely to be funded in FY2014 as well.

“These are important harbingers in terms of both sustaining and growing VCU’s research enterprise,” Macrina said. “The past several years of awards growth has paid dividends in terms of our national visibility and reputation.”

For two consecutive years, VCU has been ranked by the National Science Foundation among the top 100 research universities in the country. Furthermore, VCU is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a “Research University-Very High Research Activity,” the highest ranking afforded by the foundation. Carnegie also has placed VCU in the status category of “Community Engagement.” VCU is one of only 28 public research institutions that enjoy both of these distinctions.

By the Numbers
VCU sponsored program awards totaled $247,956,748. Of this, nearly $80 million came from the National Institutes of Health, including the National Cancer Institute; the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute; the National Institute on Drug Abuse; and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Medicine ($128 million), Arts ($40.4 million), Education ($25.6 million) and Humanities and Sciences ($12.9 million) represented the top four VCU schools or colleges in terms of sponsored programs awards.

Approximately 53 percent of the total awards came from federal funding sources, with 10 percent from industry, 8 percent from the state and 29 percent through other sources, including foundations.

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Francis Macrina, Ph.D.
Francis Macrina, Ph.D.