The departments of Neurosurgery and Neurology ranked No. 17 and No. 22 respectively in 2016 with a combined $11.3 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health, according to rankings provided by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research.

Dr. Corinne GriguerDr. Corinne Griguer

The Department of Neurosurgery achieved a more-than-fivefold increase from its 2015 NIH funding. This increase was due in part to Corinne Griguer, Ph.D., associate professor of neurosurgery, who was awarded more than $1.2 million in 2016 NIH funding, ranking in the top-10 percentile of neurosurgery principal investigators nationwide, according to BRIMR data. Griguer is a biochemist focused on malignant glioma, specifically the bioenergetic pathways involved in its development and progression.

“This ranking is a direct testament to the diligent work of our research faculty,” said James Markert M.D., professor and chair of the UAB Department of Neurosurgery. “The success rate for NIH grants is only around 20 percent. I am very proud that our faculty are successfully competing for these awards. This speaks to the caliber of the research being done here in Neurosurgery as we strive to find new treatments and therapies for our patients.”

Many key research projects that comprise this funding are joint efforts between the departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery. For instance, Harrison Walker, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Neurology, and Barton Guthrie, M.D., professor in the Department of Neurosurgery are collaborators on a BRAIN Initiative Grant to study new technology that could improve outcomes from deep brain stimulation, an increasingly important treatment for Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders.

Dr. James MarkertDr. James Markert

The momentum UAB has gained in fiscal year 2016, carried into 2017. Markert and G. Yancey Gillespie, Ph.D., were recently awarded an R01 grant to conduct a Phase I Clinical Trial of an oncolytic herpes virus called M032. The FDA-approved trial will be used to evaluate the safety and tolerability of this improved virus that recruits the patient’s immune system to help fight against malignant gliomas.

“NIH funding is a critical engine for scientific advancement,” Markert said. “During the past 15 years, cancer death rates in the U.S. have dropped by about 1 percent annually, and this can be attributed in larger part to research funded by the NIH. Obviously, there is more work to be done to cure cancer, as nearly 80,000 cases of primary brain tumors are expected to be diagnosed in the U.S. this year. That is why our faculty are working tirelessly to explore new treatments and therapies. This increase in NIH funding is a reflection of their dedication to improving patient care.”