Record $363M in sponsored research funding by VCU in FY21

By P. Srirama Rao, Ph.D. | Virginia Commonwealth University

As VCU continues to advance its research mission, I am pleased to announce another institutional milestone of record sponsored research funding in FY 2021. We made significant progress in expanding our reputation as a major urban, public research university whose work benefits its community locally, nationally and globally. Our research enterprise, even while challenged by a pandemic, looks ahead to new horizons.

Combined awards for sponsored programs, including grants, contracts and other funding types directed towards research activity, totaled $362,906,366, a jump of more than 8% over the previous year’s $335 million. Research funding grew in nearly every college and school on the MCV, Monroe Park and Qatar campuses.

Over the last three academic years, our sponsored funding has grown by more than 25%, reflecting the commitment of our faculty and students to addressing societal grand challenges in pursuit of our institutional mission.

VCU’s research portfolio across the MCV and Monroe Park campuses represents diversified funding from federal, state, industry and other private funding agencies. The university received $165 million in total extramural federal funding: 57% from the National Institutes of Health ($93.4 million, up 1.8%) and 43% from other federal agencies ($71.9 million).

Industry funding jumped 51% over FY 2020 to $56.6 million, including $32.5 million for clinical trials. Industry investment in testing potential therapeutics for COVID-19 patients helped to drive some of this funding increase. Additionally, VCU received $3.76 million in royalty and licensing income from faculty inventions licensed to companies, with some of the funding used to support “proof of concept” funding to mature and validate new innovative technologies.

For the past decade, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has ranked VCU as a top 100 research university based on research expenditures. VCU ranks 65th in R&D expenditures among public research universities. VCU remains one of only 28 public institutions to have both a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center and a clinical and translational science award funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. VCU is one of 67 universities nationwide classified by the Carnegie Foundation as an “R1 Doctoral University – Highest Research Activity,” the foundation’s highest ranking, as well as its prestigious “Community Engagement” status. This recognition places VCU among an elite class of public research institutions that enjoy both distinctions.

This varied portfolio of funded projects with substantial potential for impact reflects the growing breadth, depth and competitiveness of our VCU research enterprise. Please join me in recognizing and acknowledging the accomplishments of our community of scholars and those engaged in the creative process on Monroe Park and MCV campuses. Their groundbreaking research has a tremendous impact on the human experience we strive to elevate.

Later this month, you will hear from me and President Michael Rao about the bold and ambitious One VCU Research Strategic Priorities Plan, which serves as a framework to streamline investments leading to increased funding and growth, ultimately advancing excellence in research at VCU. More details will be forthcoming.