The university closed the 2016 fiscal year at a new record institutional high of $271.1 million in funding.

VCU sponsored research reaches new all-time high

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Virginia Commonwealth University closed the 2016 fiscal year at a new record institutional high of $271.1 million in sponsored research funding, surpassing the previous year’s record-setting total by approximately $1 million. It marks the eighth time in the past 10 years that VCU’s researchers have taken the institution to record levels of external funding. During that time, the record high has grown by $60 million.

“Our faculty scholars are continually formulating the crucial questions to advance knowledge in their disciplines,” said Francis Macrina, Ph.D., vice president for research and innovation at VCU. “Equally important, they are able to develop rigorous approaches to answer those questions and to successfully compete for grant support to do the work. Through sponsored research they create new knowledge with the potential to benefit humankind and the world. They also pursue ways to translate and apply this knowledge to realize its full potential.”

Federal funding sources accounted for $144.1 million of the portfolio (53 percent), while industry sources represented $26 million and state sources accounted for $25.6 million. The remaining funds came from other sources, including foundations. The federal funding total included $86.4 million awarded by the National Institutes of Health. VCU has been ranked for five consecutive years by the National Science Foundation as a top 100 research university based on federal research expenditures. Presently, VCU is ranked No. 84 in federal research expenditures. 

Macrina said non-NIH federal funding constituted 40 percent of the total federal awards, a percentage that indicates VCU is sustaining the diversification of its federal portfolio and reflects the increased breadth, depth and competitiveness of the research being conducted at VCU.

“I am grateful for Frank Macrina’s visionary leadership and the expertise of my fellow faculty colleagues,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “Because of their dedication to conducting research that is relevant and transformative, we are able to have a positive impact on the lives of others. The knowledge and expertise our students acquire in laboratories, clinics and with faculty mentors will benefit not just the region, but the world.”

VCU is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a “Doctoral University: Highest Research Activity,” the highest ranking afforded by the foundation. In 2015, VCU also achieved Carnegie “Community Engagement” status. Along with the university’s research classification, this places VCU among an elite class of public research institutions that enjoy both of these distinctions.

For more information on VCU's sponsored awards portfolio for fiscal year 2016, visit