09:36 AM

​Growth in federal grants key to successful, sustainable research programs

As The Ohio State University Board of Trustees focused on research successes at its February meeting, College of Medicine Dean K. Craig Kent emphasized to trustees how critical it is for biomedical scientists to attract funding – and particularly federal support – to maintain strong research programs.

And, Kent said, scholars in the college are meeting that expectation: He presented a video detailing the 19 investigators who received their first National Institutes of Health R01 research project grants in Fiscal Year 2017.

Kent reminded the board that the College of Medicine’s NIH funding grew 20 percent last fiscal year, “which is pretty remarkable, considering the NIH budget has been flat.”

Prospects for this fiscal year are looking good as well, he said, noting that NIH funding was $7 million ahead of budget at the mid-year point.

“It’s difficult to have a successful, sustainable research program without funding,” said Kent, observing that federally funded scholarship is a significant driver of an academic medical center’s reputation. He explained that grants from federal agencies have the added value of resulting from a peer-review process that identifies the best and brightest investigators.

“So when we look at candidates for faculty positions at Ohio State, we want to make sure they’re extraordinarily well-funded,” Kent said.

“I would argue that the most important determinant of reputation is the amount and quality of research that we perform here at the medical center,” he added. “Are our faculty funded through national sources? Do our faculty publish innovative research in widely read journals? Are we conducting translational research that brings patients in from around the country for the care that they can receive at Wexner Medical Center?”

Signs at Ohio State point to yes: Kent said the college has set a goal this year for 20 investigators to receive their first R01 grant. As of Jan. 31, that number stood at 11.

“The take-home message is that Ohio State is this incredibly fertile environment for people who are very talented to come and be successful in their research endeavors,” he said.