March 16, 2021

Microbiology ranks 8th in NIH funding for 2020

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Lund resize Frances Lund, Ph.D.The Department of Microbiology ranked 8th place nationally at $21.3 million for 2020 NIH research funding.

The funding is a result of both direct and indirect NIH dollars. Frances Lund, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Microbiology, says “If we specifically enumerated the direct dollars received (the money that goes directly to the labs for research) we would have been in the top 5 in the country.”

Lund says that the biggest contributor to this ranking is research collaboration. “Many of the grants in our department are Multi-PI grants. This means that multiple labs are working together to answer the same or closely-related scientific questions.”

“One of the best outcomes of assembling scientific teams is that the teams can quickly expand their efforts to tackle other questions that hopefully over time will lead to additional research funding for the larger group.”

For example, Lund explains, “We have one NIH U19 grant that has multiple projects and cores that are headed by faculty in our department. This grant brings in millions of dollars each year to UAB and very much facilitates team science.”

“Another collaborative NIH grant funded this year was a S10 grant that provides millions of dollars for the purchase of a new cryo-electron microscope. This grant, which included many scientists from across the campus, will allow us to perform state-of-the-art analyses of macromolecules, like new drugs attached to their target molecules.”

Over the past nine years, both faculty and research dollars have increased in the Department of Microbiology. The department has hired 14 new research-intensive faculty, 13 of which are funding by the NIH. Lund says, “This growth in our department has doubled the number of NIH funded investigators to 27 faculty in the department.”

She adds, “It is also critical to thank the research staff and trainees who design and execute the experiments that lead to new discoveries, and the administrative staff in our department and institution who assume much of the administrative and regulatory work that comes with research funding. Finally, it is important to thank the faculty in the department who work together to ensure that we are educating and mentoring the next generation of virologists, bacteriologists, and immunologists and are developing projects to address fundamental scientific questions that have the potential to enhance the health and well-being of people throughout the world.”