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Grants and contracts post third year of double-digit growth

The research grants and contracts awarded to Dartmouth Medical School in fiscal year 2000 totaled over $70 million. That amounts to an almost 12% increase over FY99—the third straight year of double-digit increases —and a 100% increase since 1990.

Adam Keller, chief operating officer of DMS, terms FY00 a "great year" and notes that the increases were institution-wide. The new awards were "very evenly distributed," he says. "Every department had something new that was going on."

Keller sees the new awards as falling into three broad categories: grants to established faculty who moved their research in new directions; grants to faculty new to Dartmouth who brought established funding with them; and grants to junior faculty with a newly funded project.

Tops: The Department of Community and Family Medicine led the way in overall dollars with $19 million in awards. Medicine was second with $10 million, followed by psychiatry, microbiology, pharmacology, physiology, and biochemistry. The departments of surgery and pathology had the largest percentage increases in FY00.

Keller notes that some of community and family medicine's total is an artifact of administrative structure, since that department includes the Center for the Evaluative Clinical Sciences and several other organizations that have been very successful at seeking funding. However, he also credits the leadership of the department's chair, Michael Zubkoff, Ph.D. "[He] has really done an excellent job at identifying areas for future research and found leaders who are incredibly strong in those areas," says Keller.

Significant: Keller also ticks off several particularly significant grants:

John Baldwin, M.D., dean of DMS, and Jay Dunlap, Ph.D., chair of genetics, received over $1 million from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for the new Department of Genetics. "Symbolically," says Keller, this grant "says that peers around the country clearly understand our own capacity in genetics and the capacity of Dartmouth as a research institution."

James Weinstein, D.O., director of the Spine Center, received over $3 million from the National Institutes of Health for a study of low back pain. Keller says this grant is funding a large, multicenter study, which will improve Dartmouth's clinical trial capabilities in general.

Several large National Cancer Institute grants to the Norris Cotton Cancer Center provided core support to further cancer research in general as well as to subsidize start-up support for new investigations.

Keller also mentions that a collaboration between the state of New Hampshire and the DMS Department of Psychiatry has proved to be a model other states are now following. The state contracts annually with DMS to provide faculty to staff the state mental hospital in Concord and also supports the New Hampshire- Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center.

Noting the dramatic increase in research funding compared to 10 years ago, Keller says, "I think it's purely a function of the quality of the faculty that we have here. We've done some things to try to support the faculty, by doing a better job supplying and supporting equipment and core resources, but I think that's the nickel-and-dime stuff compared with what they've done."

Grants and contracts income represents a larger portion of the DMS budget than was the case 10 years ago, Keller notes. "The good news is that's a function of how successful we are. It also means a little more risk, should we have a downturn in funding . . . but I think we've really made strides since the early '90s to have the sort of infrastructure and administrative support that can sustain the grants."

Climate: Keller foresees the continuation of a climate favorable to research. "Funding for research is going up nationally," he says. "Clearly there's a public commitment to research, which has not diminished in the least, and the good economy helps that." He admits that competition for federal grants is tougher than ever, but says DMS continues to thrive. "We're getting funded, so obviously we're studying the right areas, using the right methods, and getting the right results."

Jonathan Weisberg

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