Biomedical research encompasses a wide array of activities that span fundamental “bench science” in STEM disciplines to clinical research on human subjects. Investments in this area will establish Baylor as a leader in understanding, preventing, diagnosing, and furthering new treatments of human disease, as well as position the University to form strategic research partnerships with medical institutions. This area offers vast levels of extramural funding from both federal and private sponsors and a relatively high funding rate compared to many other academic areas. We expect that 80%-90% of faculty working in this area will maintain active external funding at any given time.
Baylor plans to invest in biomedical research by building on existing strengths related to cancer. Over the past three fiscal years, Baylor faculty investigating cancer have accounted for approximately 22% of the University’s external research expenditures. In the coming years, the number of faculty with cancer-related expertise is expected to double, while targeting a minimum threefold increase in external research expenditures. Requisite synergism to accomplish this goal will rely on a new interdisciplinary research hub —“Cancer Collaborative” — that will draw expertise from multiple academic units. The unique potential of such a center is derived from anticipation that the dynamics associated with a well managed initiative will foster a creative environment. This is conducive to the development of new internal and external partnerships, inspired visions for shared research, an infusion of new resources and support, and an amplified return on investment that is only possible through collaborative granting. The focus of research within the center will initially be tailored to improve cancer diagnostics and therapies through state-of-the-art biomarker and drug discovery combined with advanced imaging technologies and tumor models. This will provide an opportunity for Baylor to capitalize on revenue resulting from patentable intellectual property.
“Research is fundamentally the best way to teach what science is all about. It becomes a great teaching opportunity and tool. It opens students’ minds. Instead of it being this closed state of facts, it becomes a world that’s open to curiosity and to questions.” DR. DWAYNE SIMMONS, THE CORNELIA MARSCHALL SMITH ENDOWED PROFESSOR
However, areas of faculty expertise that we will seek, alongside infrastructure investments required to launch an effort directed at cancer will also position us to target other diseases in parallel or future initiatives. Many of the world’s most prolific diseases disproportionately affect low-income and third-world populations. Investments in biomedical research will not only target diseases for which substantial research funding is available (e.g., cancer), but also will support research in “neglected” diseases that do not typically receive the same levels of federal funding or widespread attention from pharmaceutical companies. This approach underscores Baylor’s Christian commitment to health equity and human rights.