Dear Colleagues,

As the VCU community celebrates the historic milestone of $310 million in sponsored research funding in FY 2019, I am delighted to share details on its impact on the VCU research enterprise.

Combined awards for sponsored programs including gifts directed towards research activity totaled $310,216,377, an institutional jump of 14.6% from $271M in FY18. Research funding grew on both the MCV and Monroe Park campuses and in nearly every college and school. VCU’s ongoing commitment to interdisciplinary research, faculty support and investment in research infrastructure have translated into these record levels. Within the last decade, our sponsored award dollars have grown by more than 30%, representing a year-on-year positive trajectory of growth in research.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) ranked VCU as a top 100 research university based on research expenditures for eight consecutive years; VCU ranks 67th nationally in total R&D expenditures, 54th in federal R&D expenditures among public research universities nationwide and is among the top three Virginia universities. The Carnegie Foundation classifies VCU as a “R1 Doctoral University – Highest Research Activity,” the foundation’s highest ranking, as well as its “Community Engagement” status. This recognition places VCU among an elite class of public research institutions that enjoy both distinctions.

VCU's research portfolio across the MCV and Monroe Park campuses represents diversified funding from federal, state, industry and other private funding agencies. While details of the sponsored awards are outlined in this brief sponsored awards report, the following are some of the highlights of funding for FY 2019: 

  • VCU received $159M in total extramural federal funding, a 12.8% increase from FY 2018. This includes nearly $90M in funding from National Institutes of Health (NIH), a 14% increase from FY 2018. Other federal grantors included NSF and the Departments of Education, Justice and Defense. Our overall federal portfolio consisted of 56% NIH funds and 44% non-NIH funds.

  • VCU received funding of $46.9M from the Commonwealth of Virginia and $29.7M in sponsored research from industry. Private funding from foundations and gifts increased 3% from last year to $73.8M. This diversified portfolio of funding reflects the expanding breadth, depth and competitiveness of the VCU research enterprise.

  • VCU holds prestigious NIH center grants that support the Massey Cancer Center and the Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research. Massey Cancer Center has been an NIH National Cancer Institute-designated center for four decades. The Wright Center received its second five-year grant from the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) in FY 2018. VCU is one of only 20 public institutions nationally to hold both these designations.

  • VCU’s Center for the Study of Tobacco Products was renewed through $19M in funding through a partnership from the NIH’s National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for research activities that span the campuses.

  • VCU received an ongoing $25M five-year award from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as part of its “Medicines for All” initiative. Based in the College of Engineering, this program is conducting research aimed at lowering the cost of life-saving drugs.

  • VCU remains highly engaged in the local educational ecosystem. The School of Education’s Teacher Residency program received a significant increase in federal and state funding in FY19 to expand the project with a focus in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math. The Teacher Residency program is an intensive, school-based teacher preparation program that integrates a research-supported approach for effective teaching with real-world classroom experience.  

Please join me in celebrating the accomplishments of VCU’s community of scholars. In the coming weeks, you will hear more about the many examples of impactful and groundbreaking research currently underway as well as details of a strategic plan for VCU’s research enterprise. 

Thank you for your hard work and unparalleled dedication that has translated into an outstanding year of accomplishments and successes. As I begin my second year at VCU, I look forward to continuing our collaborative pursuit of ensuring VCU's future as a major urban public research university.


P. Srirama Rao, Ph.D.

Vice President for Research and Innovation