UCSF School of Medicine receives $3.8 Million grant for biomedical research

December 15, 1999

The UCSF School of Medicine received a grant of $3.8 million this week from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to support biomedical research. The school's plans for the grant include startup funds for new faculty and support for the study of genetic diseases.

HHMI's Biomedical Research Support Program awarded 41 similar grants, including UCSF's, to medical schools across the country in an effort to refill the funding reservoirs for medical research. Managed care and other economic changes in the health care industry during the last decade have diminished internal sources of funding, said Lloyd H. (Holly) Smith, Jr., MD, UCSF professor emeritus and associate dean of the School of Medicine.

"Even though the NIH budget has risen remarkably in the last several years under the leadership of Harold Varmus and others, the funds that had been available from clinical care dollars are no longer there because of the current stresses on the health care industry," said Smith. "The funding for the infrastructure has been lagging - for equipment, for renovations, and for startup funds needed for young investigators."

Young investigators, who face staggering funding needs in setting up a new laboratory, will be among the primary beneficiaries of this grant, said Zach Hall, PhD, UCSF Vice Chancellor for Research. "As techniques have become more and more sophisticated, the cost to set up a new investigator has grown." And, many older UCSF labs need renovation before a new researcher can set up shop. This new grant will help the School of Medicine to continue recruiting the best young scientists to its faculty, Hall said.

The grant will also support disease research, including a core group of scientists who study the epidemiology and molecular biology of genetic diseases, Hall said. Funds are also earmarked for the UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center's transgenic and targeted mutagenesis core facilities, which help researchers to create mice with specific genetic mutations.

The grant won by the School of Medicine was one of the largest awarded by HHMI in a competition among more than 100 medical schools for a total of $92 million dollars. The grant will be paid over a four year period, and may be spent on junior faculty start-up, shared facilities used in multidisciplinary research, and pilot research projects.

In 1995, the School of Medicine received a $4 million dollar grant under the same HHMI program. Sums averaging $100,000 helped to renovate each of 10 laboratories, and similar amounts helped to equip 11 laboratories for new faculty. In each case the researcher's department provided matching funds.

HHMI, a medical research organization based in Chevy Chase, Md., employs more than 300 scientists at medical centers nationwide, including 15 who carry out their research as faculty members at UCSF. HHMI also awards predoctoral fellowships, research training fellowships, and physician postdoctoral fellowships, many of which are won regularly by UCSF students.

University of California - San Francisco

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