Research Is Thriving at East Carolina University
ECU's reputation in life sciences research has helped it bring in more outside funding as well as top-notch researchers.
For more than a decade, East Carolina University has ramped up its life sciences-related research, gaining a national reputation in the process.
The university has ranked as high as third among public universities in North Carolina in research funding (in 2013), and its growth rate in external research dollars from 2011-14 outpaced similar institutions nationwide.
The push to bolster ECU’s research efforts has been by design, says Michael Van Scott, interim vice chancellor of the university’s Division of Research, Economic Development and Engagement.
“In 2005, we did a couple of things to start growing the research enterprise in a very intentional way,” he says. “We centralized our startup program, so any department on campus can access startup funds for faculty that have the potential to do research. That has allowed us to bring in some very good, young researchers. The second thing is we’ve focused on a couple of centers or institutes where we could bring investigators together so that they could work better as teams.”
Examples include the East Carolina Diabetes and Obesity Institute (ECDOI) and the university’s Department of Engineering, The ECDOI is bringing in significant extramural funding, while the 10-year-old engineering program has built on its strong teaching reputation with a focus on research.
ECU’s Brody School of Medicine has been involved in research since it was founded in 1974. A renewal of an endowment fund at the school is providing research to help combat cancer, cardiac and sickle cell disease in the region, and researchers at the medical school also are studying the interaction between viruses and the human immune system as part of a $2.6 million National Institutes of Health grant.