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It’s Christmas morning and I’m happy to relay a nice surprise that brings 2013 to a satisfying close, thanks to newly released data on NIH awards. Based on current NIH funding levels, our Department now ranks 8th among all microbiology/immunology departments at medical schools. And in comparison with these departments at our peer institutions (public universities), we now rank 4th.

Just three years ago, M&I was ranked 18th among all microbiology/immunology departments (and 12th among our peers). As you know, we’ve seen a lot of changes since then: NIH grant paylines have dropped to historic lows; ARRA funding has disappeared; and all NIH awards have had automatic 10% reductions in the wake of sequestration. Yet our Department’s NIH grant income is now at a record high, having increased by 22% in that same time frame.

These statistics are based on annual NIH awards to primary faculty, and yes, we have been successfully recruiting many new faculty members since my arrival at UNC five years ago. But the funding levels mentioned above are not simply due to an increase in principal investigators: the number of primary faculty retirements/departures during that period exactly matches the number of newly recruited primary faculty (nine).