National Institutes of Health funding for research at USC increased more than 10 percent over the 2011 fiscal year, primarily because of new research facilities and projects.
USC received $202 million in NIH funding, and its funding ranks 11th among all private higher education institutions, according to the NIH.
NIH grants are used to support the direct and indirect costs of research and are awarded to USC for use by faculty members and administration.
Elizabeth Fini, vice dean for research at the Keck School of Medicine, said the increase in NIH funding can be attributed to the construction of the new research facilities the university added over the last year.
“We received 14 percent more funding than last year when counting grants from all sponsors,” Fini said. “This can be attributed to the opening of four new research buildings and the recruitment of a new generation of researchers into these new facilities, thus expanding the number of research faculty who are competitive for grants.”
Part of the new funding from the NIH will be used for the construction and development of the National Cancer Institute Physical Science-Oncology Center at USC, Fini said.
“Recently the National Cancer Institute of the NIH designated USC as one of 12 Physical Science-Oncology Centers across the country and funded the program with a $16-million grant to be used over five years,” Fini said. “The five-year grant will allow [researchers] to focus on creating a set of virtual cancer models based on measurements from individual cancer patients, [and] the models then would be used to simulate cancer growth and predict drug responses for each patient.”
Fini said that given the current budget cuts in the federal government, NIH funding for the 2012 fiscal year will not increase as substantially as in 2011.
“We have some catching up to do, and times are tough at NIH,” Fini said. “Nevertheless, the Keck School has taken a positive stance, [and] we are projecting a 1 to 3 percent increase [in funding] in parallel with the 2012 NIH budget increase.”
Because of the predicted decrease in the growth of funding from the NIH, Fini said this year the university will try to increase its research funding from other foundations and corporations.
“We also receive funding from foundations, such as the American Cancer Society, Autism Speaks and Fight for Sight,” Fini said. “Industry sponsorship is currently a small part of our portfolio, but we see this as an opportunity to expand and fill the gap opened by difficult times at NIH.”
Kelsi Chesney, an undeclared freshman, said the university’s increased funding from the NIH shows the growth of USC as a private research university.
“I’m excited that USC keeps securing more funding from the NIH because it shows that [the university] really cares about its student and faculty research projects,” Chesney said.