Extramural awards grew by 21% in 2014 despite intense competition for limited funding.
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Extramural funding for research at Seattle Children’s rose to $91.9 million in fiscal year 2014 – a 21% increase over the 2013 total of $76.1 million.

Funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) – the largest source of medical research funding at Seattle Children’s – increased 20% to $55.9 million in 2014 compared to $46.5 million in 2013. Seattle Children’s ranks fifth in the nation in NIH pediatric research funding.

Both industry and nonprofit organizations awards – Seattle Children’s other leading sources of extramural funding – rose by more than 25% in 2014. Industry awards rose to $9.8 million from $7.8 million and nonprofit awards rose to $19.9 million from $15.9 million.

“Contracts with other institutions accounted for some of our growth and we recruited some new faculty who brought funding with them, but most of our growth came because our investigators submitted very competitive applications to the NIH and other funding sources,” says Erik Lausund, who leads research operations at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. “This performance is impressive by any measure.”

Growing amid federal cuts

Extramural funding grew at eight of the institute’s nine interdisciplinary research centers during 2014, with cystic fibrosis, infectious disease and cancer research capturing the largest amounts of support.

Seattle Children’s award totals came at a time when federal support for research is flagging and the competition for funding is intense. Across-the-board federal budget cuts – aka sequestration – forced the NIH to trim its budget by 5% in 2013 and hold the line in 2014.

“NIH funding is hard to get,” says Dr. Jim Hendricks, president of the research institute. “Pediatrics gets a very small share of the budget and sequestration has further limited the size and the number of grants awarded to pediatric research. We have some of the best and the brightest scientists working at Children’s, which has been critical to our success with obtaining government funding.”

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The largest individual award went to Dr. Bonnie Ramsey, director of the Center for Clinical and Translational Research, from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to continue running its Therapeutics Development Network for another year.

Ramsey also received $1.7 million from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to continue her trial to optimize treatment for early pseudomonas infection in cystic fibrosis patients.

Other large awards include:

Extending a long-term trend

Last year’s growth continued a steady increase in extramural funding. Awards to Seattle Children’s increased 62% since the $56.6 million received in 2010.

“In the research world, money chases money,” says John Streck, who oversees the pre-award office at the research institute. “The awards we receive one year often build on awards from previous years. It’s all driven by the progress our investigators are making to find new cures and treatments for childhood diseases.”

Most of our growth came because our investigators submitted very competitive applications to the NIH and other funding sources.
- Erik Lausund