NIH News Release
National Center for Research Resources

Friday, October 6, 2000

Kathy Kaplan, NCRR Information Officer
Office of Communications/NCRR
(301) 435-0888

NIH Funds Centers for Biomedical Research Excellence

Bethesda, MD–The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced today that it has awarded 19 grants, totaling approximately $165.5 million over five years, to biomedical research institutions located in states* that had not fully participated in NIH funding in the past. Eight federal agencies have Experimental Programs to Stimulate Competitiveness in Research (EPSCoR). The NIH Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Program is an EPSCoR-like program that is the source of funding for the awards described here. The goal of the NIH IDeA Program is to enhance biomedical research capacity building among academic institutions and research institutions within the eligible 23 states and Puerto Rico. The National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), the NIH component that administers the IDeA Program, awarded the grants to:

  • University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
  • University of Delaware, Newark
  • University of Idaho, Moscow
  • University of Kansas Center for Research, Inc., Lawrence, Kansas
  • University of Kentucky Research Foundation, Lexington
  • University of Louisville, Kentucky
  • Maine Medical Center Research Institute, Portland
  • University of Montana, Missoula
  • University of Nebraska, Lincoln
  • University of Nevada, Reno
  • Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Oklahoma City
  • Oklahoma University Health Science Center, Oklahoma City
  • Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
  • University of South Dakota, Vermillion
  • University of Vermont and State Agricultural College, Burlington
  • West Virginia University, Morgantown
  • University of Wyoming, Laramie (2 grants)
  • University of Puerto Rico, San Juan

Each new grantee institution will establish a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE), to be led by an established investigator who will direct a multidisciplinary effort to focus on a basic or clinical research theme, such as neuroscience, cancer, structural biology, immunology, or bioengineering. The research team will include promising investigators who are to develop their research skills in this mentored environment to enhance the pool of competitive investigators in research institutions among the IDeA-eligible states.

The proposed scientific leadership of the COBRE was a critical factor in selecting applications to be funded. Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, NIH principal deputy director, emphasizes the far-reaching, scientific opportunities provided by these grants. "The NIH IDeA Program awards provide unprecedented opportunities for these institutions to strengthen their research infrastructure as well as to create networks and partnerships within their states to develop collaborative scientific projects with investigators at research-intensive institutions."

States eligible to apply for IDeA grants are those that received less than $70 million in NIH funding from 1994 to 1998 or had an NIH grant award success rate of less than 20 percent over that period. In l998, investigators from the 23 eligible IDEA states and the commonwealth of Puerto Rico accounted for only 8 percent of the total number of research grant applications received by NIH. "Although this statistic most likely reflects a small pool of biomedical investigators in these states," says Dr. Judith Vaitukaitis, NCRR director, "the COBRE grant application pool reflects the best set of competitive applications NIH has ever received from institutions in these states since inception of the IDeA program in 1993."

In the next fiscal year (FY) 2001, the IDeA Program is expected to receive $100 million from Congress to support programs to further strengthen the research capacities of institutions in the IDeA states. Administrators and investigators from institutions in those states were invited to attend a strategic planning workshop this past summer to identify their infrastructure needs and to suggest approaches for building partnerships within and across IDeA states. This effort was led by Dr. Ruth Kirschstein. (A workshop summary may be viewed at:

NCRR Mission: NCRR develops and supports research projects and resources that enable NIH-supported biomedical research that leads to discoveries in many areas of health. The diversity of NCRR programs helps biomedical investigators and institutions develop and access specialized technologies, instrumentation as well as access to specially adapted clinical, animal and biomedical technology-related research facilities. NCRR-supported biorepositories validate and distribute biologic models, genetic stocks, and other biomaterials to investigators globally. NCRR's Research Infrastructure area, which administers the IDeA Program, funds a mix of programs that expand this nation's capacity to conduct biomedical research. For more information, visit the NCRR Web site:

*Current IDeA-eligible states: Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, South Carolina, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming and Puerto Rico.