Alaska ’s biomedical research funding has lagged behind most states of the nation for decades. The disparity is due partly to the absence of a full medical, dental, or veterinary college and also reflects the fact that basic biomedical research never became a central priority as UA developed. Since 1960, our research has focused on the physical environment and natural resources of the state. A concatenation of events over the last 13 years has firmly established health as a university-wide priority for the 21st century.
In September 2001, the University of Alaska (UA) accepted an $6 million award to form an Alaska Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (BRIN). BRIN was an Institutional Development Award funded by the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a former division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Along with UA's other new federal infrastructure awards (COBRE, SNRP, NSF EPSCoR) the BRIN award provided means and motive to address the profound geographic and cultural disparities in Alaska ’s biomedical research capacity.
On August 16, 2004, Dr. Elias Zerhouni, the 15th Director of the NIH, traveled to the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus to present a $17.4 million NIH grant for the first Alaska INBRE (INBRE 1). During BRIN and INBRE1, UA hired ten faculty in the areas of toxicology, infectious disease, cellular/molecular biology, bioinformatics, and epidemiology.
On May 1, 2009, UA received $17.7 million for a second installment of INBRE funding (INBRE2). During INBRE2 UA hired six new faculty members. Since the inception of BRIN/INBRE funding, UA has invested in infrastructure (laboratories and administrative support), hired new tenure-track faculty in biomedicine and related areas at UAA and UAF, and greatly augmented our undergraduate, graduate, and pre-professional programs in health and biomedicine.
On August 1st, 2014 the University of Alaska received an $18.8 million grant from the NIH to renew its INBRE program for a third time. This five year grant the Alaska INBRE program can continue to fund the development, coordination and sharing of biomedical research resources and expertise throughout Alaska.