COVID-19 Update

Emory University Department of Pediatrics Ranked No. 1 for Research Grants from the NIH


$97 million to help Children’s and Emory target advances in childhood diseases

ATLANTA (February 11, 2021)–Emory University School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics, the primary academic partner of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, received the most federal research dollars from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2020 for pediatrics departments, according to rankings from the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research. The new figures show the pediatrics department has continued to rise in national rankings of research dollars, up from No. 49 in 2004. Last year, Emory Department of Pediatrics was ranked No. 3.

The funding allows researchers to work on cures and treatments for childhood diseases such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, cancer and blood disorders, cardiovascular disease, epilepsy, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, infectious diseases, autism and more.

“Our number one ranking among the NIH-funded pediatric departments demonstrates that the partnership between Children’s and Emory has an extensive footprint across the nation,” said Lucky Jain, MD, MBA, Chief Academic Officer of Children’s and Chair of the Emory University School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics. “This past year challenged our doctors, scientists and researchers to think and operate differently, and I’m proud of the way our teams have exceeded all expectations in achieving our goals, continuing to lead the way in COVID-19 science and discovery. This ranking is a result of the dedication between our two institutions and passion for advancements in pediatric treatment.”

The Children’s and Emory relationship facilitates leading-edge pediatric research, training and innovation so that Children’s can deliver the best outcomes possible for patients and families. Rankings are based on NIH funding received between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020. This top ranking represents more than 1,500 active studies, submission of more than 1,700 publications, and $97 million in total grants. In the latest rankings, the Department of Pediatrics has 18 investigators listed as each receiving $1 million or more in NIH funding.

Some recent NIH-funded projects include:

  • $54M awarded for Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) projects: Children’s, Emory University and Georgia Institute of Technology were awarded a total of $54 million from the NIH to lead a national effort in COVID-19 diagnostic tests verification and related projects through the RADx program. The goal is to make millions of accurate and easy-to-use COVID-19 tests available for at-home or other point-of-care use. Under the direction of co-principal investigators Wilbur Lam, MD, PhD, a Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s and Professor of Pediatrics and Biomedical Engineering at Emory University, and Georgia Institute of Technology, Greg Martin, MD, MSc, Director of the Predictive Health Institute and Center for Health Discovery and Well-Being at Emory University and Georgia Tech, and Oliver Brand, PhD, Executive Director for the Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology at Georgia Tech, the initiative is delivering essential data to the NIH to help determine which tests merit additional federal support to progress to market.
  • $8.7M awarded for Multicenter Sickle Cell Disease Treatment with Arginine Therapy (STArT) trial: A study being conducted by Claudia Morris, MD, a Pediatric Emergency Medicine Physician at Children’s, could be life-changing for patients with sickle cell disease. The study, funded by $8.7 million from the NIH, seeks to determine whether giving additional arginine can reduce the length and severity of a sickle cell disease pain crisis. Dr. Morris will lead the multicenter study of intravenous arginine therapy in collaboration with Carlton Dampier, MD, and Nitya Bakshi, MD, both pediatric hematologists/oncologists at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Children’s and Emory University serve as the lead sites and clinical coordinating centers among 10 sites through the national Pediatric Emergency Care Applied Research Network (PECARN) during the six-year study. At the end of study, arginine could be an important addition to the arsenal of therapies available to treat sickle cell disease pain, perhaps even eliminating pain entirely during an episode.
  • $1.7M awarded for Georgia Cystic Fibrosis Research and Translation Core Center: The Emory and Children’s Cystic Fibrosis Center of Excellence was awarded $1.7M from NIH to establish the Georgia Cystic Fibrosis Research and Translation Core Center to solve critical problems associated with cystic fibrosis (CF), focusing on non-pulmonary aspects of CF. The grant will leverage activities not only at Emory University and Children’s, but at Georgia Tech and Augusta University. Augusta University is home to the Medical College of Georgia, which is the location of the only other CF Foundation-accredited CF Care Center in Georgia.

The NIH is the largest source of funding for medical research in the world, granting more than 80 percent of its budget to more than 300,000 researchers at more than 2,500 universities, medical schools, and other research institutions in every state and around the world. The Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research is a trusted nonprofit that utilizes data annually on all research and development contracts awarded by the NIH. Visit https://www.choa.org/research/about-research or https://med.emory.edu/departments/pediatrics/ to learn more.

About Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

As the only freestanding pediatric healthcare system in Georgia, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is the trusted leader in caring for kids. The not-for-profit organization’s mission is to make kids better today and healthier tomorrow through more than 60 pediatric specialties and programs, top healthcare professionals, and leading research and technology. Children’s is one of the largest pediatric clinical care providers in the country, managing more than one million patient visits annually at three hospitals, Marcus Autism Center, the Center for Advanced Pediatrics and neighborhood locations. Consistently ranked among the top children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has impacted the lives of kids in Georgia, across the United States and around the world for more than 100 years thanks to generous support from the community. Visit www.choa.org for more information.

About Emory University School of Medicine

Emory University School of Medicine is a leading institution with the highest standards in education, biomedical research and patient care, with a commitment to recruiting and developing a diverse group of students and innovative leaders. Emory School of Medicine has more than 2,800 full- and part-time faculty, 556 medical students, 530 allied health students, 1,311 residents and fellows in 106 accredited programs, and 93 MD/PhD students in one of 48 NIH-sponsored Medical Scientist Training Programs. Medical school faculty received $456.3 million in external research funding in fiscal year 2018. The school is best known for its research and treatment in infectious disease, neurosciences, heart disease, cancer, transplantation, orthopaedics, pediatrics, renal disease, ophthalmology and geriatrics.

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