Funding rose 8% over the previous year, and has grown by a third over the past decade
Virginia Commonwealth University’s research continues to grow, posting an institutional record of $335 million in sponsored funding in fiscal year 2020, an 8% increase over the previous year.
“VCU’s ongoing commitment to its faculty, interdisciplinary research and investment in research infrastructure have translated into these record levels — which have grown by a third — over the past decade,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “I applaud our community of scholars, whose groundbreaking research has a tremendous positive impact on the human experience.”
Funding grew on both the MCV and Monroe Park campuses, solidifying VCU’s reputation as a major urban, public research university whose work benefits its community locally, nationally and globally. VCU’s research portfolio represents diversified funding from federal, state, industry and other private funding agencies and reflects the growing breadth, depth and competitiveness of its research enterprise, said P. Srirama Rao, Ph.D., the university’s vice president for research and innovation.
VCU received $169 million in total extramural federal funding, a 6% gain from FY 2019. This includes nearly $92 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health. The funds from the National Science Foundation and the Departments of Education, Justice and Defense registered increases. The overall federal portfolio consisted of 54% NIH funds and 46% non-NIH funds.
Industry contributed to more than $37 million in sponsored research funding, a 26% increase from FY 2019, some of which resulted from the university’s rapid ability to begin clinical trials of potential therapeutics, such as remdesivir, for COVID-19 patients. More than $9 million of the industry funding supported VCU’s research into muscular dystrophy.
“Fiscal year 2020 translated into an outstanding year of accomplishments for VCU’s research community and our faculty and researchers are to be congratulated and recognized for their efforts,” said Vice President Rao. “Despite the many disruptions caused by the pandemic, they pressed forward with their research focused on VCU’s strategic initiatives of enriching our lives, achieving a just and equitable society, optimizing health and supporting sustainable energy and environments.”
VCU has been ranked as a top 100 research university based on research expenditures for nine consecutive years by the National Science Foundation and is 65th in research and development expenditures among public research universities. The Carnegie Foundation classifies VCU as an “R1 Doctoral University – Highest Research Activity,” the foundation’s highest ranking. The university also received “Community Engagement” status. This recognition places VCU among an elite class of public research institutions that enjoy both distinctions. VCU remains one of only 25 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.
Other examples of new and ongoing sponsored research from FY 2020:
- A $50 million grant for VCU to oversee a multi-institution study of concussions among service members and veterans
- Two research awards totaling $8.8 million to coordinate a dozen studies across four universities that will focus on how to best provide training and employment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities
- Multiple grants expanded Massey Cancer Center’s research on finding causes and cures for various cancers, including pancreatic and triple negative breast cancer, two cancers that grow quickly, have limited treatment options and poor outcomes
- A $2.5 million grant from the Department of Energy leading to development of next-generation rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which power everything from smartphones to electric vehicles
- $2.5 million in royalty and licensing income from faculty inventions licensed to companies, with some of the funds used to support “proof of concept” funding to mature and validate new innovative technologies
- A $7.8 million NIH grant renewal to VCU’s Alcohol Research Center is deepening the understanding of the genetic components of alcohol related disorders
- Nearly $11 million from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to participate in the largest long-term study of brain development and child health ever conducted in the U.S.
- Grants totaling $2.28 million from the National Institute of Justice help investigators in the Department of Forensic Science to develop and evaluate new forensic tools
- A grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to support the Rice Rivers Center oyster restoration program, a public-private effort that takes shells from consumers and restaurants, seeds them with baby oysters and returns the shells to the Chesapeake Bay
The record funding announcement comes just ahead of an update on the VCU Strategic Research Priorities Plan.
“In the coming weeks, we will share details about the proposal, developed by more than 90 faculty members, to implement our bold and ambitious plan,” Vice President Rao said. “This will serve as a framework to streamline investments leading to increased funding and growth, ultimately advancing excellence in research at VCU.”
About VCU and VCU Health
Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 30,000 students in 233 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Twenty-two of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 11 schools and three colleges. The VCU Health brand represents the VCU health sciences academic programs, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System, which comprises VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, and MCV Physicians. The clinical enterprise includes a collaboration with Sheltering Arms Institute for physical rehabilitation services. For more, please visit www.vcu.edu and vcuhealth.org.