UND’s biomedical sciences department ranked No. 2 in nation for federal research funding – Grand Forks Herald


GRAND FORKS — The UND Department of Biomedical Sciences is the No. 2 biomedical sciences department in the nation in research funding from the National Institutes of Health.

The School of Medicine and Health Sciences Biomedical Sciences department is ranked second out of more than 30 biomedical sciences departments nationwide for the fiscal year 2020-2021, according to a recent UND Today story. UND is the only Midwest school listed in the top five for the past three years.

The most recent results — tabulated by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research, an entity that, among other things, tracks and ranks NIH grant funding — shows the biomedical sciences department brought in more than $13 million in NIH funding alone. The result marks the third year in a row that the department 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 2019-2020.

“We just missed the top spot by about $450,000,” said Colin Combs, department chair and Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Sciences. “So the school has more work to do. We would like to be the No. 1 NIH-funded biomedical sciences department.”

According to the SMHS’s 2021 annual report — called “Vital Signs” — the 2020-2021 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 $38.5 million. The figure represents a nearly 25% increase in funding over the 2019-2020 period, when $30.8 million was brought in.

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,” said 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 payoff 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.”

Among other recipients, department faculty and programs receiving NIH funding in 2021 include:

  • Associate Professor Mikhail Golovko, who was awarded a $2.3 million grant to study metabolism in the brain. 
  • A $10.7 million grant renewal was awarded to the UND Center of Biomedical Research Excellence in Host-Pathogen interactions.
  •  Several additional awards went to specific faculty to study infectious diseases such as COVID-19, pneumonia and influenza, and many Alzheimer’s-related awards went to Combs, Assistant Professor Abraam Yakoub, and others.


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