The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute recently announced its position as the top-ranked independent pediatric hospital in the United States in funding from the National Institutes of Health. CHOP received more than $125 million in NIH funds in 2012, placing it not only at the top of the list of pediatric hospitals but also fourth among all independent hospitals in the country.

While the #1 ranking is impressive, achieving this milestone involved far more than receiving more NIH grant dollars than any other pediatric hospital. During the annual Scientific Symposium , Chief Scientific Officer Phil Johnson, MD, gave a “State of the Research Institute” address where he discussed the factors that brought the Institute to this prestigious position.

Despite decreasing federal dollars supporting biomedical research, the majority of the Institute’s funding comes from the NIH. Dr. Johnson explained that the Institute’s research expenditures have more than doubled over the past 10 years, an astounding growth that parallels the Hospital’s growth.

The number of CHOP investigators has surged from approximately 300 to more than 450 during this time. The number of grant applications, awards, and proposals submitted to the Hospital’s Institutional Review Board — which reviews proposals for clinical research — have all experienced enormous growth as well, Dr. Johnson said.

“Over the past five years, the Research Institute more than doubled the number of publications in peer-reviewed journals,” he said. “But more importantly, our investigators are publishing more and more in the most prestigious, highest-ranking journals in the world. Our contribution to the understanding of diseases and innovative ways to treat them is nothing short of astounding.”

However, challenges like decreased federal funding for research and healthcare reform may slow the pace of the discovery. And Dr. Johnson expressed concern that these factors may discourage the next generation of scientists. The Research Institute, however, is uniquely poised to face these challenges. Its training programs provide full-time mentored research experience to future leaders in the biomedical sciences, with a special emphasis on advancing laboratory, clinical, behavioral, and translational pediatric research.