Revenue from the Yale School of Medicine in fiscal year 2016 was considerably higher than the year before, according to Yale’s Annual Financial Report, which was released in October.
Grant and contract income for the School of Medicine increased significantly from fiscal year 2015 — partially due to a larger National Institutes of Health budget — as did revenue from medical services.
Yale’s 2015 financial report stated that grants had fallen 0.02 percent from 2014 as a result of uncertainty surrounding NIH funding, which is largely determined by Congress. However, in December 2015, Congress reached an agreement on a tax and spending budget that would give the NIH $32 billion in funding during fiscal year 2016 — $2 billion more than the agency received the year before and its biggest funding boost in 12 years. The Yale School of Medicine, which received 80 percent of the University’s grant and contract income in fiscal year 2016, reported an increase of 9.5 percent for 2016.
Dean of the medical school Robert Alpern said that the budget increase has led to a “big increase in research revenue” for the school and speculated that a similar increase may occur during fiscal year 2017. In addition to increased NIH funding, Alpern said that revenue from medical services provided by Yale Medicine — the clinical practice of the school and the largest academic multispecialty practice in Connecticut — also continues to grow.
“The clinical practice and the NIH are our two major revenue streams and we had a big surplus in fiscal year 2016,” Alpern said. “We anticipate that [fiscal year 2017] will also be a very good one.”
According to the financial report, medical services income generated by Yale Medicine increased by $40.6 million over 2015 — a growth rate of 5.5 percent. In addition, the volume of clinical activity increased 7.4 percent due to new faculty hires and increased physician productivity.
“On the clinical side, the basic reason we’re growing is that more patients are coming to see us,” Yale Medicine CEO Paul Taheri said.
Taheri attributed the increase in patient volume in part to a gradual transformation from a “physician-based” operating model to a more “consumer-driven, patient-based model,” adding that the transformation has been underway for several years.
According to Alpern, although the clinical practice remains “very strong,” it is constantly seeking to increase efficiency in order to keep up with high patient demand as well as combat rising pricing pressures.
Despite a growing medical school income, Alpern said that certain pressures on funding remain, adding that while the NIH budget is better relative to previous years, it is still not ideal. In particular, he said that despite the fact that the Yale medical school faculty receives higher grant funding than the national average, individual professors and researchers are still under considerable pressure when submitting grant applications.
Elaine O’Keefe, the executive director of the Yale Office of Public Health Practice and a researcher affiliated with the national Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS, said that although she could not comment precisely on the overall funding climate for public health and medical research, the general sense recently is that the research grant application process is “ever more competitive.”
“Even highly scored applications are not guaranteed funding,” O’Keefe added.
Amy Justice MED ’88, a professor of medicine and public health, said that because the emphasis at NIH has been on patient-oriented research, which is what her work is related to, she has been able to maintain and even expand funding under the current administration. However, she said that for many researchers who are just beginning the grant application process, it is “just as hard or harder” to receive funding than when she began applying 20 years ago. She added that the funding line is currently tighter than what it was previously.
With regard to expectations for funding under the incoming Trump administration, Justice said that the president-elect has not said much about what he is going to do once in office, making it difficult to tell how NIH funding will be impacted.
Research funded by the federal government represents 74 percent of total research performed at the Yale School of Medicine, with the NIH providing the largest component of that funding at 94 percent.
Ishaan Srivastava contributed reporting.