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Virginia Commonwealth University reached $310 million in sponsored research funding in fiscal year 2019, setting a new record for the university. (File photo)

VCU hits new milestone with $310M in sponsored research funding

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Virginia Commonwealth University reached $310 million in sponsored research funding in fiscal year 2019, setting a new record for the university.

Combined awards for sponsored research programs totaled $310,216,377, representing a jump of 14.6% from VCU’s $271 million in funding from the previous fiscal year. The new mark places VCU among the top three Virginia universities. Nationally, VCU ranks No. 54 for federally funded research among public universities and No. 67 for all research by public universities, according to the National Science Foundation. VCU has set institutional records in sponsored research 10 times in the past 12 years.

“Our robust growth in sponsored research speaks to the immense talent and dedication of the faculty, staff and students who comprise VCU,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “Their curiosity, creativity and innovative qualities benefit so many people, even those who will never come to our university.”

VCU’s research portfolio across both of its campuses features diversified funding from federal, state, industry and other private funding agencies. Among the drivers of growth for VCU in the recent fiscal year was nearly $90 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, a 14% increase over the previous year. VCU also received $73.8 million for research from private funding and gifts and $46.9 million from the state.

“As we celebrate this historic mark, VCU leaders are creating an ambitious, strategic, universitywide research plan,” said P. Srirama Rao, Ph.D., vice president for research and innovation at VCU. “This will serve as a framework as we identify research priorities, thematic programs and promising targets of discovery, streamlining investments to further advance increased funding and ultimately even higher excellence in research at VCU.”

Among the top recipients of newly announced funding in the recent fiscal year, VCU’s Center for the Study of Tobacco Products was renewed through nearly $20 million in federal funding, and the School of Education’s teacher residency program received a $5 million grant to expand and provide new STEM training.

The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education classifies VCU as an “R1 Doctoral University – Highest Research Activity,” the highest ranking, and VCU also holds Carnegie’s “Community Engagement” status. This recognition places VCU among a small class of public research institutions that enjoy both distinctions. In addition, the Massey Cancer Center has been an NIH National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center for four decades and the Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research is on its second five-year grant from the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, making VCU one of only 20 public institutions to hold both designations.