For Your Health
For Your Health

News from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences

Department of Biomedical Sciences among top three recipients of NIH grant funding for third year straight

The results are in and the University of North Dakota (UND) Department of Biomedical Sciences is the #2 biomedical sciences department in the nation in terms of research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

As noted by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research (Table 4), which tabulates and ranks NIH award data annually, the biomedical sciences team at UND came in second overall for NIH dollars awarded out of more than 30 biomedical sciences departments nationwide in fiscal year 2020-21. UND is the only Midwestern school listed in the top five for the past three years.

This result marks the third year in a row that the department, housed within UND’s School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS), has been listed in the top three recipients of NIH grant dollars among comparable biomedical sciences departments nationwide. Department researchers helped UND reach third place in 2019-20, and the move up to second place for 2020-21 has the team energized.

“We just missed the top spot by about $450,000,” smiled department Chair Colin Combs, Ph.D. “So the School has more work to do. We would like to be the number one NIH-funded biomedical sciences department.”

Among many other projects, department faculty and programs receiving NIH funding in 2021 include: Associate Professor Mikhail Golovko, awarded a $2.3 million R01 grant to study metabolism in the brain; a $10.7 million grant renewal to the UND Center of Biomedical Research Excellence in Host-Pathogen interactions; several additional awards to specific faculty to study infectious diseases like COVID-19, pneumonia, and influenza; and many Alzheimer’s-related awards to Combs, Assistant Professor Abraam Yakoub, and others.

According to the School’s 2021 annual report Vital Signs, the 2020-21 academic year was the School’s best-ever for pulling in external funding for research. Between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, total research and sponsored funding at the SMHS was $38,476,968. The figure represents a nearly 25% increase in funding over 2019-20 ($30,805,926). Over the past decade, the School has taken in nearly $300 million in external funding for sponsored research and other projects, much of which was awarded to the Department of Biomedical Sciences.

“I’m excited to see the continued progress that our Department of Biomedical Sciences has made in expanding its extramural funding,” added Marc Basson, senior associate dean for medicine and research at the SMHS. “This is a testament to the hard work and creativity of our faculty. However, the real pay-off is not the funding per se but the discoveries our faculty are making using these funds that will eventually have real impact on the health of North Dakotans.”