UNMC's total Sponsored Program Awards increased 2% in FY 21 to $228.5 million, which is a new record. These external funds support UNMC activities that include sub-categories of research, education, and public service.
Total research-only sponsored awards for FY 21 was $163.9 million, the second highest research award total ever recorded at UNMC.
"UNMC receives many types of sponsored awards, whether the award mechanism is a grant or contract," said Jennifer Larsen, MD, vice chancellor for research at UNMC. "While most sponsored awards are categorized as research, a growing number and percentage of UNMC's total awards are classified as public service -- although research activities may be part of the overall project, and research publications are often written as a result of the project."
Dr. Larsen pointed to the National Emerging Special Pathogens Training and Education Center (NETEC) as an example. A $4.2 million award from the U.S. DHHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) funds the infrastructure for the Special Pathogens Research Network. This network was instrumental in the rapid implementation of and recruitment to the NIH-funded remdesivir trial that showed remdesivir was effective in reducing days in hospital for patients with COVID. Because of the network, UNMC was the first site in the U.S. to "stand up" this research study which was one of the first clinical trials in the U.S. to evaluate an experimental treatment for COVID-19.
Additionally, the $9.5 million CDC-funded Project Firstline initiative supports a community-based test bed for infection control and prevention innovations, as well the ISTARI Cube® which is being developed for the care of patients infected with special pathogens ranging from rural Nebraska to austere international settings.
Categorizing awards as research as compared to public service is often done by the agency, Dr. Larsen said. "For example, all NIH grant awards are considered research even if focused on education, such as training or conference grants, and all current ASPR grant awards are categorized as public service even though the infrastructure or programs may support or spawn new research." Regardless of the category of the award, the expansion of FY21 total sponsored activities is critical to support the institution's many types of infrastructure needs as well as the diversification of UNMC's research portfolio.
The annual research award report does not represent all the funding brought in through multicenter clinical trials, as the total is not known until recruitment is completed.
Congratulations, Dr. Larsen!