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Research funding at SUNY Upstate on the rise

SYRACUSE, N.Y. —SUNY Upstate Medical University is one of nine SUNY university and university college campuses to chart an increase in research funding from federal, state and private sources, otherwise known as extramural funding, according to a sponsored program activity report by the SUNY Research Foundation for the fiscal year ending June 2006.

Specifically, SUNY Upstate's extramural funding increased by 13 percent in fiscal year ending June 30, 2006, over the previous year, totaling more than $37.7 million in extramural funding, with the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences leading the way with $5.7 million in funding.

"This is an exceptional accomplishment given the fact that many research institutions are struggling just to maintain their current levels of funding," said Steven J. Scheinman, M.D., executive vice president and dean of the College of Medicine at SUNY Upstate. "To our credit, we are successfully competing with medical centers nationwide for funds from the same agencies, and particularly the National Institutes of Health, all of which have become even more selective due to budgetary concerns."

Scheinman adds that much of the success results from SUNY Upstate recruiting research stars into already successful programs. "Some of our most exciting recruitments are among the most recent, and their new grants are not yet reflected in the past year's numbers," said Scheinman. "Also, several of our established investigators have obtained major new grants, most notably Dr. José Jalifé's cardiovascular research group who have just been awarded funding for their program project grant. Thus, next year's numbers will be up even further."

Kenneth Barker, Ph.D, noted that the success is realized because of the recruitment of senior?level faculty who have brought with them their funded work, and also because of the recruitment of young, highly qualified and well?trained investigators.

"SUNY Upstate has a history of attracting researchers who have been publicly recognized for their expertise," said Barker, provost and vice president for research at SUNY Upstate. "Funding sources consider the qualifications and prior accomplishments of faculty members who will conduct their studies. We have taken a more aggressive approach in recruiting internationally recognized faculty members who not only bring their grants with them but whose credentials attract additional and significant funding, but also bright, young investigators who show promise in their fields of research.

"In addition, we have invested heavily in state?of?the?art research equipment to provide our investigators with research capabilities that would not be available to them at many institutions," said Barker. "We also provide seed money for pilot studies that generate competitive research ideas and concepts and generous financial support to sustain studies between competitive renewals and the grant funding cycle."

There are other factors that have played a role in increased extramural revenue at SUNY Upstate. Under the direction of John Lucas, Ph.D., vice provost for research, SUNY Upstate's Research Administration and Research Development Offices have a comprehensive program that helps faculty and staff identify extramural funding opportunities.

"Funding agencies award their grants to what they consider to be the very best biomedical research in the world," said Lucas. "It's a very competitive process and from the laboratory to the bedside our researchers are involved in initiatives that explain complex biological phenomena and show promise in making a global impact on developing future therapies. These discoveries will have a major impact on patient care and our healthcare economy."

In a message to the SUNY Upstate community, SUNY Upstate President David Smith, M.D., lauded the university's research enterprise. "Our research enterprise has been on a good trajectory and is the fastest growing in the SUNY system," he said. "We can look forward to continued growth of this vital component of our academic profile and expand our capabilities to include a focus on translational research in the future."

According to the sponsored program activity report, SUNY Upstate's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Studies expended the largest amount of funding, $5.7 million, followed by the departments of Medicine at $4.2 million; Pharmacology at $4 million; Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at $3.3 million; and Family Medicine at $2.6 million.

The report also noted that federal funding, such as that from the National Institutes for Health, accounted for 73 percent of this extramural support, accounting for $22.6 million.

The majority of direct federal funds were granted from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) at $22.1 million. The report states that nearly 80 percent of extramural funding that came to SUNY Upstate during this period was expended for research, followed by institutional operations, public services and instruction.

The sponsored program activity report compares SUNY Upstate's extramural funding expenditures with SUNY's other 20 university and university campuses, such as Binghamton, Albany and Stony Brook. SUNY's community colleges and technology campuses were not included in the report.