USC department ranks No. 2 in NIH medical school public health funding

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January 27, 2017
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The Department of Population and Public Health Sciences at the Keck School of Medicine of USC was ranked one of the nation’s top public health departments receiving funds from the National Institutes of Health, according to the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research.

Public health sciences well-funded

Overall, seven Keck School of Medicine departments ranked within the top 20 NIH-funded in their respective departments. The USC Department of Population and Public Health Sciences ranked No. 2, as did the Department of Ophthalmology.

Of the more than $140.8 million in NIH grants Keck School of Medicine received between Oct. 1, 2015, and Sept. 30, 2016, the Department of Population and Public Health Sciences  received approximately $37 million to support public health sciences research.

The department’s recipients include the project “Statistical Methods for Integrative Genomics in Cancer,” which received $12 million and is led by Duncan Thomas, professor of preventive medicine and director of the division of biostatistics, and Jim Gauderman, associate professor of preventive medicine.

The project aims to create new statistical methods to better understand cancer causes and prognoses, beginning with colon cancer.

Another project, “Life Course Approach to Developmental Repercussions of Environmental Agents on Metabolic and Respiratory Health,” or LA DREAMERs, received $6 million to examine health issues related to asthma and obesity and is led by Carrie Breton, assistant professor of preventive medicine, and Frank Gilliland, professor of preventive medicine.

Highest ranking to date

Of the 139 ranked medical schools, the Keck School of Medicine of USC ranked No. 30, its highest placement since the Blue Ridge Institute first began ranking medical schools in 2006.

“Keck School of Medicine’s current positioning represents the most impressive ranking of NIH funding the school has received to date,” said Rohit Varma, MD, MPH, dean of the Keck School of Medicine and director of the USC Roski Eye Institute, in a press release. “Our strong performance and rise in rankings reflect the ground-breaking work of our world-renowned faculty, dedicated staff and committed researchers, including the addition of 19 new principal investigators in the last year.”

The Keck School of Medicine also ranked No. 1 in NIH funds received per principal investigator. The 158 principal investigators received an average of more than $891,000, securing the school’s place in that top spot.

“The Keck School of Medicine of USC No. 1 ranking in NIH funds received per principal investigator demonstrates the strength of researchers that we attract at the Keck School,” said Thomas A. Buchanan, MD, Keck School of Medicine vice dean for research. “These competitive grants allow us to further innovate and support our mission to improve the quality of life for individuals and society by promoting health, preventing and curing disease, advancing biomedical research and educating tomorrow’s physicians and scientists.”

— By Larissa Puro

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