Richard S. Larson, MD, PhD
Richard S. Larson, MD, PhD, is executive vice chancellor and vice chancellor for research at the UNM Health Sciences Center.

The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center has received a record $203 million in external research funding for the fiscal year ending today – an impressive 23 percent increase over the previous year.

This year’s funding total represents a $38 million increase over the $165 million received in FY 2015-2016. The research funding comes from the National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies, private industry and foundations.

“This incredible accomplishment is due to the dedication and creativity of our faculty, staff and students,” said executive vice chancellor Richard S. Larson, MD, PhD, who oversees the UNM Health Sciences Center’s research mission.

The additional money received in FY 2016-2017 – most of it from out-of-state sources – will translate into 100-200 additional research jobs at the UNM Health Sciences Center, Larson said.

“This money spurs employment in New Mexico while promoting new discoveries and technology to improve health and health care,” Larson said. “Each of those jobs creates a ‘ripple effect,’ making the UNM Health Sciences Center a bright spot in our state’s economy.”

The UNM Health Sciences Center’s success in attracting research funding is a tribute to the quality and impact of the research conducted there, Larson said. It also reflects a coordinated strategy to grow faculty resources over the long term, he said.

“We have posted year-over-year increases in grants and contracts for more than a decade, even as overall funding for biomedical research has remained stagnant,” Larson said. “We’ve built structures to help faculty become more competitive. We’ve provided pilot funding, additional training and support facilities – all while facilitating new scientific team formation to help our researchers address bigger challenges in health care.”

The research mission has also grown more nimble, and is now poised to take advantage of new funding opportunities whenever they become available, Larson said.

The research enterprise features two centers: the UNM Clinical & Translational Science Center, which focuses on accelerating the adoption of new technology into health care, and the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center, the only institution in the region with the highest “comprehensive” designation from the National Cancer Institute.

“Biotechnology developed by our scientists has been spun off to create dozens of new businesses in recent years,” Larson said. “Our continued success in growing our research capacity has been a tremendous boon for the people of New Mexico.”