The University of Arizona Health Sciences received more than $133 million in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding in 2020–2021, with several colleges showing improvements in the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research national rankings, released in mid-February.
The Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research is a nonprofit organization that ranks U.S. medical schools by NIH grant awards each year. The NIH is the largest public funder of biomedical research in the world. NIH-funded research has led to breakthroughs and new treatments helping people live longer, healthier lives, and building the research foundation that drives discovery.
From Oct. 1, 2020, to Sept. 30, 2021, the UArizona R. Ken Coit College of Pharmacy advanced its ranking to No. 6 with $13.8 million in NIH funding. Last year, the college checked in at No. 8 with $10 million in funding.
Some of the Coit College of Pharmacy’s largest NIH grants were received by Jeannie Lee, PharmD, BCPS, BCGP, FASHP, assistant dean for student services and associate professor whose NIH-funded projects are focused on improving hypertension medication adherence in older adults, Hongmin Li, PhD, who holds the R. Ken and Donna Coit Endowed Chair in Drug Discovery and is working to identify new therapeutic targets for several diseases including those caused by flaviviruses, including West Nile, Zika and yellow fever, and Haining Zhu, PhD, who holds the R. Ken and Donna Coit Endowed Chair in Aging and Neurodegenerative Disease, is working to better understand the molecular mechanisms for neurodegenerative diseases including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and other diseases such as cancer.
"Hypertension is the most prevalent chronic disease among older Americans," said Dr. Lee. "While medications are remarkably effective in reducing negative outcomes of uncontrolled hypertension, medication adherence rate is only about 50% with hypertension control in older adults only around 53%. Proper adherence to hypertension medications can yield major reductions in heart failure and stroke, and preserve cognitive function. Our project is focused on developing and testing a digital therapeutic intervention to improve hypertension medication adherence for older adults."
“The rise in our NIH funding is a testament to the ground-breaking research we do at the R. Ken Coit College of Pharmacy," said Dean Rick G. Schnellmann, PhD. "Our NIH funding enables us to find ways to improve economic, clinical, and humanistic outcomes associated with managing chronic conditions, to advance drug discovery and delivery, determine mechanisms of action of pharmaceuticals, and define adverse effects of drugs, industrial chemicals and environmental pollutants.”
The Blue Ridge rankings are determined by the whole value of NIH awards to a principal investigator’s institution and do not include research and development contracts or funding from sources other than the NIH.
A version of this article originally appeared on the UArizona Health Sciences website.