Progress and Rankings

It goes without saying, but sometimes it bears repeating. Our core commitment is to improve human health, and all of our missions in clinical care, education, and research are focused on that goal. I am sure that all of our faculty, staff, and trainees would agree that a significant motivation for their tireless effort and dedication is linked to this shared and foundational goal. But how do we measure our progress toward that goal? What metrics tell us whether we are leading the effort with new ideas or merely following others? One method, though certainly not the only, is to “follow the money.” The Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research tracks the flow of federal funding dollars to medical schools in the United States. Each year they publish a ranking of the previous federal fiscal year’s award data, broken down by departments. Thus, the most recent report reflects total NIH funding between October 2016 and September 2017. The data reflect total funding to a department or institution and is not normalized, for example, to funding per investigator. Though there are limitations in the data, these annual retrospective results provide a year-over-year snapshot of our performance relative to other institutions.

The current data both for the University of Iowa and for Internal Medicine present a complicated picture. I showed some of this data in last December’s State of the Department address, available for those with a HawkID login. What I said then is that, on the one hand, it is undeniable that in the last few years our position in these rankings has slipped. A number of factors produced this reversal, not least of which was the departure of some well-funded faculty. But as of last year, we have begun to climb out of that dip, though at a pace that has been slower than some of our peers. We have added and retained faculty with robust research portfolios and, more significant, our faculty are submitting more compelling and more successful grant applications than ever before. In just the last six months, compared to the previous period last year, we have seen an 18.5% increase in total funding and a nearly 33% increase in NIH funding with the addition of 16 new NIH grants. I believe that we are poised to continue this trend. We should also strategize together to compete for larger programmatic and consortium grant applications, leveraging inter-departmental and cross-disciplinary collaborations that are responsive to targeted funding requests. Future communications from myself and Dr. Isabella Grumbach will discuss some of these strategies in greater detail. As we continue to think bigger, trusting in our capacity to succeed, I know that we will see an even more rapid rise in our funding status in the coming years.

An important component of a compelling grant application is a robust portfolio of peer-reviewed publications in respected journals. In my last post, I talked about the success one of our cardiology fellows has had in publishing manuscripts with the assistance of our technical editor. This news reminded me to discuss additional ways to promote our scholarship both internally and beyond our walls. Communication of a new publication can take many forms, depending on the impact of the journal or the specific audience who may find the news interesting. Our department has a number of avenues, this space notwithstanding, for calling attention to publications of note, such as our Article of the Week series. For example, this week’s entry featured a publication in the Journal of Clinical Insight from Drs. Ryan Boudreau, Kaikobad Irani, and Barry London, among others. Another publication from Drs. Mo Milhem, Varun Monga, and others, in a special issue of the journal Cancers, featuring interesting results of a clinical trial in the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, was posted on our Facebook page. You can always see all the publications, updated every two weeks, that come from our department on our Recent Publications page.

The above are just two of the most recent examples of how the department can help you spread the word about your success, when you let us know about it. There are other options and resources at the collegiate level that can also be of assistance, from longer lay articles to video or even press releases to external media channels. We always want to promote your success, and we want to make sure your good news finds the right audience. Our communications director, Trevor Jackson, is always ready to work with you to build that plan. Please reach out to him as soon as you learn that your work is accepted for publication, so that we can work with you to generate public awareness of your achievements.

About E. Dale Abel, MD, PhD

E. Dale Abel, MD PhD Francois M. Abboud Chair in Internal Medicine John B. Stokes III Chair in Diabetes Research Chair, Department of Internal Medicine Director, Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center Director, Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism Professor of Medicine, Biochemistry and Biomedical Engineering

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