For Your Health
For Your Health

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

From the Dean: A record-setting research year

About a quarter of our School’s total budget comes from grants and contracts, and most of the grants come from federal agencies, most commonly the National Institutes of Health. Such grants are essential to support the School’s research enterprise, and most of this research could not be done without the associated grant support. Because almost all the research grants that are awarded to our faculty members are competitive and ranked by other investigators as to their priority for funding (called peer review), the amount of grants awarded to an institution in any one year often is used as a surrogate marker for the size and quality of an institution’s research enterprise.

That’s why the latest figures compiled by the SMHS in conjunction with the Vice President for Research’s office are so impressive. Although the numbers are not yet final and “official,” the current estimate is that we will be around $52 million in awards for the just-completed academic year! That is an amazing achievement and continues the dramatic surge in such funding garnered by the School’s faculty and staff over the past few years. Congratulations to all!

This growth in research funding is the result of an increase in both large institutional grants, that generally are broad in their focus, as well as smaller but more focused grants from individual investigators. The SMHS currently has five large institutional grants and many smaller grants. The five large grants are multi-year awards totaling millions of dollars each. These institutional grants have components to assist more junior investigators advance their scientific investigations, while the smaller, more focused grants usually are targeted at answering specific scientific questions. Both grant types are important to our research enterprise and investigative efforts.

Just to give one example of how scientific research can have a pretty direct impact on our everyday lives, a study published in yesterday’s New England Journal of Medicine provided conclusive evidence that vitamin D supplementation doesn’t reduce bone fractures for otherwise healthy people who, like me, take such supplementation.

Thus, the growth in the School’s funding – and the associated research that follows – can impact our lives directly in important ways.

That growth in research efforts at the School has, however, taxed the research support infrastructure of both the SMHS as well as UND. Accordingly, we have been working in conjunction with Vice President for Research John Mihelich to augment the institutional support apparatus available to our researchers and other staff in order to maximize the effectiveness of their efforts. Recent discussions between the central campus and the SMHS have been quite positive, and we are working hard to transform ideas and concepts into boots on the ground. I am pleased with the progress so far, but more to come!

Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH
Vice President for Health Affairs, UND
Dean, UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences