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IU School of Medicine awarded record-breaking $189 million in grant funding

The recognition establishes Indiana University School of Medicine as one of the nation’s leaders in Alzheimer’s and pediatric cancer research.

Top NIH grant funding recipient, Liana Apostolova with her research assistants (Photo provided/IU School of Medicine)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana University School of Medicine announced Tuesday it’s been awarded a record-breaking $189 million from the world’s top research funding agency. The amount is a 22% increase from last year and marks a 70% award increase from 2015. The funds will be dispersed across all areas of the institution.

The grant comes from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the largest public funder of biomedical research. Institutions across the country collectively submit tens of thousands of proposals each year and applications can take months to prepare. The success rate hovers around 20%. A winning proposal is basically academia’s equivalent to winning the lottery. 

IU School of Medicine is a nationally known leader in Alzheimer’s disease and pediatric cancer research.

“What I think is increasingly happening is the NIH is turning to us to lead some of the most important work in these critical areas,” said Dr. Jay L. Hess, dean of IU School of Medicine.

Last year, the institution received a $36 million grant, also from the NIH, to establish a drug discovery center specific to Alzheimer’s disease. The center is just one of two in the entire country. A portion of the newly awarded funding will go toward furthering the drug discovery work.

A percentage will also be allocated to investigating pediatric cancers.

David Harding is all too familiar with the importance of childhood cancer research. His son, Grant, was diagnosed with leukemia in January 2013. Grant was 2-years-old when he arrived at Riley Hospital for Children for what would be the first round of three years’ worth of chemotherapy treatment. When the opportunity came for Grant to be part of a clinical trial, his parents didn’t think twice.

“At some point during treatment, there’s the option of being randomized [into a trial],” Harding said. “My wife and I decided it would be beneficial to participate because of all the good that comes from this research. Why wouldn’t we want to be a part of that?”

The survival rate is where it is today because of what they’ve done, Harding added. “These researchers are making a huge impact on the lives of children and families living with the disease every day.”

Grant’s last chemo treatment was in May 2016. He’s been cancer-free ever since. Harding describes his son as a carefree 9-year-old who loves reading and nature and playing baseball with friends. Grant also has aspirations to one day be — of all things — a scientist.

“Today’s record-breaking funding announcement showcases the continued journey of excellence our scientists are on,” Dr. Anantha Shekhar, executive associate dean for Research Affairs at IU School of Medicine, said in a press release. “We are proud of the incredible scientific talent at Indiana University School of Medicine, who are eager to solve some of the difficult diseases facing society today.”

Photo caption: Top NIH grant funding recipient, Liana Apostolova with her research assistants (Photo provided/IU School of Medicine)