After receiving $5.8 million in funding from the National Institute of Health alone this past year, the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Surgery was recently ranked 12th among all academic surgery departments in the country for research dollars coming into the school from NIH.

Based largely on the amount of NIH funding, the ranking is a 10-place jump from the department’s 22nd place ranking in 2008 when the department received $4.4 million in funding.

Department Chair K. Kent said he believes the funding has been so high for the Department of Surgery because of the hospital’s close proximity to the UW campus and the potential for collaboration with the school.

For the future, Kent said the department hopes to increase the already large amount of clinical outcome research that is done. He said what makes the department unique is the emphasis placed on research, describing it as a “much more academic and research-interested culture” than other surgery departments.

Recently, the department brought Caprice Greenberg to the institution from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She specializes in clinical outcome research, an area of research Kent said has factored into the large amount of federal funding the whole department receives.

According to a School of Medicine and Public Health statement, the department had 181 total employees engaged in funded research, including 48 students, 39 faculty and 23 scientists. Additionally, there was an increase in publications from the department, with 334 research publications authored by the department for the year in contrast to 251 in 2009.

Kent highlighted achievements such as increased nonfederal funding, internal funding, clinical trials funding and total extramural funding.

The recent funding figures from 2011 excludes some types of NIH funding such as federal subcontracts, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds and career development awards, the statement said. With these included, the total amount would amount to $7 million in federal funding for 2011.

In the third annual Department of Surgery Research Retreat held over winter break, Kent said he discussed many of its accomplishments over the past year as well as goals for the future. Kent said he felt the retreat was the best of the past three years.

“It was incredibly stimulating and gratifying. We had over 100 surgeons and researchers there. Everyone was coming in with excitement about the research they’re working on. It was a hugely successful endeavor for us,” Kent said.

At the conference in January, Kent was one of nine speakers at sessions. Others included keynote speaker Douglas Wiegman, associate professor of industrial and systems engineering at UW. Weigman spoke on “Principles of Human Factors Engineering and their Application to Surgical Performance.”

A second was Clifford Ko, professor of surgery and director of the University of California-Los Angeles Center for Surgical Outcomes and Quality at the David Geffen School of Medicine.

Overall, Kent said he thinks the federal funding to the department will only increase from this point and hopes to rank in the top 10 within the next few years.

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