Emory University researchers received $507.4 million from external funding agencies in fiscal year 2013 (FY13), down from $521.9 million during the fiscal year 2012 (FY12).

According to a Nov. 6 University press release, federal agency funding, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, accounts for $333.8 million – more than 65 percent of the total external funding.

The NIH awarded Emory $286.3 million, which is 56 percent of Emory’s external agency funding and 86 percent of its federal funding.

University President James W. Wagner said in the press release that the decrease in federal agency funding can be attributed to the budget sequestration – a series of across-the-board budget cuts as a result of the lack of a deficit reduction plan on the part of the U.S. Congress.

“However, given the now multiple effects of sequestration, the partial government shutdown and the looming battle over the debt ceiling, we know that tremendous challenges lie ahead in maintaining our research momentum,” Wagner said.

According to Director of Research Communications of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Holly Korschun, federal funding has been declining over the last six years because Congress does not always prioritize research funding during times of financial pressure.

Korschun wrote in an email to the Wheel that Congress’s approach is short-sighted.

“A continued drop in research funding could have consequences for many years, leading to unfunded projects that are critical to medical advancement,” she wrote. She added that it would also cause a lack of opportunity for young researchers, a decline in biotech business startups and a decline in U.S. competitiveness in the global economy.

The Wheel also reported on Oct. 8 that the 14-day partial government shutdown had immediate short-term effects on research funding.

According to Vice President of Government Affairs Charles Harman in the same article, researchers were not able to apply for grants during the time nonessential federal agencies were closed down.
The Wheel reported last October that a substantial portion of the funding is allocated for biomedical and health research.

The majority of this year’s funding – $474.4 million – went to the Woodruff Health Sciences Center, which consists of the School of Medicine ($330.5 million), the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing ($9.3 million), the Rollins School of Public Health ($63.9 million), the Yerkes National Primate Research Center ($64.8 million), the Winship Cancer Institute and Emory Healthcare, according to the press release.

Some of the funded research projects for FY13 include the development of more effective and less toxic drugs for organ transplantation, the study of the HIV epidemic among women in the Southeast, the formation of centers for malaria and neuroscience research and the conduction of clinical trials for infectious diseases, according to the press release.

The remainder of the external funding came from corporate ($51.6 million), private ($68.5 million), university ($38.9 million), foreign ($8.6 million) and state ($5.6 million) sources, according to Korschun.

Funding is acquired through Emory faculty grant proposals to individual organizations, partnerships with foundations who want to fund Emory and research consortia, Korschun said.
According to Korschun, FY14 may see as much as an additional $24 million loss in research funding as opposed to FY13’s $17 million loss.

According to the Woodruff Health Sciences Center website, the University is focusing on long-term efforts to ensure success to research funding, accomplishments in health discovery and benefits to patients.

Korschun wrote that Emory researchers are working toward long-term solutions to fiscal challenges that would improve efficiencies in research organization to save costs and lead to greater collaboration.

This includes alternative research funding through philanthropy, collaboration with industry and licensing revenue through technology transfer.

Additionally, the Center has partnered with an initiative called Star Metrics that measures the economic impact of scientific research and its benefits to the population, including its effect on business startups, student mobility in the workforce, publications and long-term health outcomes, the website said.

– By Rupsha Basu