School ranks No. 6 in nation for NIH funding

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By Jennifer Lollar

The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing, an international nursing research leader, has jumped into the top 10 schools of nursing in National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding, ranking No. 6 overall and No. 2 among public schools of nursing for fiscal year 2021, as ranked by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research.

This marks a five-spot climb from its FY2020 rank of No. 11, reflecting the School’s dedication to an ever-growing research portfolio, with more than a $2 million increase in NIH funding to nearly $8.4 million in NIH research funding for fiscal year 2021, and an annual total of $17.3 million. The latter figure recognizes the funding contributions from all missions—research, teaching, practice and scholarship.

Since fiscal year 2015, the School’s annual NIH research funding portfolio has grown by more than $6 million, moving the School from No. 34 overall in 2015 to No. 6 today.

“We have supported this growth through strategic recruitment, faculty development and a dedication to mentorship of doctoral students, postdocs and faculty,” said Dean and Fay B. Ireland Endowed Chair in Nursing Doreen C. Harper, PhD, RN, FAAN. “This continued upward trajectory of our research enterprise reflects the commitment to our research and scholarship missions of all of the UABSON faculty, staff and students, the significant work, focus and output of our Office of Research and Scholarship, and of being at UAB, working with our interprofessional research colleagues and scientists.

“It should not be lost on anyone that this milestone was achieved by UABSON faculty, staff and students during a global pandemic and during unprecedented times for nursing and health care. We all continue to witness the importance of continued research, scholarship and creation of new knowledge, and the importance of applying new knowledge in the workforce. I am proud of the role all UAB nurses and nurse scholars continue to play in advancing science in our profession and in health care in support of better health for all.”

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The UAB School of Nursing has remained among the top 20 nursing schools for NIH funding since 2017, and Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship Marie Bakitas, DNSc, NP-C, AOCN, ACHPN, FAAN, said the excellent foundation the School has created to support its nurse scholars and research collaborations across UAB’s academic medical center and university have been key to this continued upward progress.

“Reaching this strategic goal has not been an individual effort, it has taken a School-wide and University commitment,” Bakitas said. “We are fortunate to be aligned with UAB Medicine and the academic health science center to really grow and develop our research around populations, and the care of special populations. I cannot say enough about the system in place in our School to support research and scholarship. The incredible team in our Office of Research and Scholarship has been diligent about building the infrastructure necessary to help us grow and develop nurse scientists and scholars. It is this investment that has helped continue to grow our funding and impact.”

Now that the School has made it into the top 10 overall and is No. 2 in funding in public schools of nursing, Bakitas is setting another goal.

“When we reached the Top 20, we hit a significant milestone as a School and accomplished a long-standing strategic goal,” said Bakitas. “Now that we have reached the top 10, we can continue to work toward our next strategic goal—reaching the top 5.”

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