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Department of Public Health Sciences More Than Doubles in NIH Research Grant Funding

The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Department of Public Health Sciences received $11.8 million in National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded research grants in Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2019, raising the department from No. 19 in FFY2018 ($5.4 million) to No. 13 in FFY2019 ($11.8 million) – according to the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research. This represents a six-spot increase.

“The department has seen a steady rise in this type of research productivity over the last number of years,” said J. Sunil Rao, Ph.D., who served as interim chair of the department from June 2016 to December 2019. “It is a testament to the persistence and hard work of our talented faculty, but also reflects important contributions from our staff, graduate students, research collaborators and community partners.”

Increasing four spots in the federal fiscal year 2019, the department is the fourth highest NIH-funded department within the Miller School of Medicine, with the Departments of Genetics, Medicine, and Neurology in the top three. For rankings compared to schools of public health, the department is now No. 20 in the federal fiscal year 2019 – a seven-spot increase from 2018 (No. 27).

There was also an increase in proposal volume and percent of awarded proposals (award success rate). The department successfully submitted 135 proposal applications in the fiscal year (June 2018-May 2019) compared to 86 in the fiscal year 2018, representing a 64 percent increase in proposal volume. In the fiscal year 2019, 38.3 percent of proposals were awarded. This represents an increase from the 31.4 percent awarded success rate over the fiscal year 2018.

“These accomplishments are representative of the significant and impactful public health work that our faculty, students and staff are carrying out locally in our communities, nationally and internationally,” said Margie Jimenez, M.A., C.R.A., assistant chair of the department and its centers. “We are public health in action.”

Using only data from the Blue Ridge report, multiple principal investigators of the Clinical Trial Network’s (CTN) Florida Node Alliance (FNA) received $4.9 million in NIH-funding for the federal fiscal year 2019. These principal investigators include Jose Szapocznik, Ph.D., who is chair emeritus and professor in the Department’s Division of Health Research Services and Policy; Daniel Feaster, Ph.D., professor in the Division of Biostatistics; and the executive director of the FNA, Viviana Horigian, M.D, M.H.A., who is associate professor in the Division of Health Services Research and Policy.

Also, in the federal fiscal year 2019, Lily Wang, Ph.D., associate professor in the Division of Biostatistics, received $2.1 million from the NIH.

"The amazing improvement in NIH ranking of our department in FFY19 is evidence of the hard work and excellence in the scholarly productivity of our faculty, with strong support from our staff, graduate students, and partners in the community and other healthcare institutions in South Florida," said Hermes Florez, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., who is the current interim chair, professor and director of the Division of Epidemiology and Population Health at the Department of Public Health Sciences. 

Four department faculty from the Division of Prevention Science and Community Health received more than $500,000 in NIH-funding that supported a myriad of projects in HIV/AIDS, prevention science, community health initiatives, mental health programs and environmental health.

They include Guillermo “Willy” Prado, Ph.D., dean of the University of Miami Graduate School; division director, and professor, Seth Schwartz, Ph.D., professor and director of the Ph.D. in Prevention Science and Community Health program; and Adam Carrico, Ph.D., associate professor. Naresh Kumar, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the M.S. in Climate and Health Program in the Division of Environment and Public Health, also received more than $500,000 in NIH funding.

“The department has received $20 million in new total awarded funded proposals to date,” said Jimenez. “We are expecting additional awards as 62 proposals are still pending review by funding agencies. This is a groundbreaking record for the Department of Public Health Sciences. These are challenging, but exciting times for public health.”

“The increase in NIH and major extramural funding that the department is expecting for the federal fiscal year 2020 will provide a major platform to enhance learning experiences for our graduate students and post-doctoral trainees, and is in alignment with the strategic priorities of the Miller School of Medicine and other UM schools, departments, and centers that are engaged in public health research,” said Dr. Florez.

Written by Amanda Torres
Published on February 27, 2020