Woodruff Memorial Research Building. Photo by Jason Oh.

Woodruff Memorial Research Building. Photo by Jason Oh.

By Elan Radick
Contributing Writer

Emory researchers received a total of $521.8 million in donations during fiscal year 2014, an increase of 2.56 percent from the previous year, according to a Nov. 5 University press release.

This is the fifth consecutive year Emory has received over half a billion in research funding.

Of that total amount, more than $356 million was contributed from federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which donated just under $300 million in funding.

Most of the donation was sent to Emory’s Woodruff Health Sciences Center (WHSC), which received approximately $483 million for research, with $325 million coming from federal grants, according to the release.

The process of receiving these grants is extremely competitive.

“It’s very difficult to receive funding from the federal level, due to the federal sequester cuts and lack of support for researching funding on national level,” Dr. David Stephens, WHSC vice president for research and chair of the department of Medicine, wrote in an email to the Wheel. He added that of all total U.S. grants applied for through the NIH, only eight percent are funded.

With the help of Emory’s Office of Research Administration (ORA), which helps create and facilitate research at the University, Emory faculty submit grant applications to different types of agencies, including the NIH, National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense and others, according to the ORA’s website.

Stephens believes the amount of funding that Emory receives in federal grants can attest to the fact that Emory University is an elite research institution.

“Research funding helps builds a strong infrastructure for the University that we are very proud of,” Stephens wrote. “From our response to the Ebola patients as well as testing new products and discovering new drugs, it’s all due to the strong research at the University.”

According to Director of Research Communications for WHSC Holly Korschun, people from every level, including postdoctoral students, graduate students, laboratory technicians and even undergraduates help staff this research.

“In view of the nation’s continued budget constraints on research and development funding, these totals are especially remarkable,” Stephens said in the press release. “They are truly a testament to the high quality of our researchers’ grant proposals and their potential and relevance to benefit society.”

Stephens and Korschun both said that research has made major impacts in many different fields including cancer research, stroke research, HIV/ AIDS research, autism research and neuroscience research.

According to Korschun, some of the major research teams that reserved money this year was a group of geneticists that are researching the gene responsible for fragile X syndrome, the most common cause of inherited intellectual disability.

Emory has also created two of the most successful HIV/AIDS drugs, which are used by more than 90 percent of current U.S. HIV/AIDS patients.

– By Elan Radick, Contributing Writer