In case you missed it: a look back at 2023
Here are just some of KU Medical Center’s accomplishments and successes over the past year.
In 2023, the University of Kansas Medical Center made great strides in making research discoveries, training health care professionals and improving health care, while also expanding its reach and marking several milestones. Here are just a few of our noteworthy successes from the year:
The University of Kansas Cancer Center received the largest grant in KU history.
In July, The University of Kansas Cancer Center announced a $100 million lead gift from the Sunderland Foundation to support a new, state-of-the-art destination cancer center. This gift raises the total to $143 million toward a building to bring together cancer research, treatment and patient care teams, transforming cancer care in the region.
A new federal grant brought together partners in four states to drive new treatments and cures.
In September, KU Medical Center announced four-state Heartland Consortium as part of the All of Us Research Program to advance precision medicine. The medical center and its partners received $6.3 million in initial funding from the National Institutes of Health, with the potential to renew the award every year for four years.
A joint health sciences center in downtown Wichita gained traction.
In August, the Wichita City Council approved a plan for Wichita State University and the University of Kansas to build a 471,000-square-foot health sciences center in downtown Wichita. The campus will combine WSU’s College of Health Professions, WSU Tech’s Health Professions program and Wichita campuses of KU School of Medicine and KU School of Pharmacy into one location. There will be shared spaces for advanced laboratories, clinical research and technology.
The research enterprise experienced tremendous growth.
In fiscal year 2023, federally funded research spending at KU Medical Center hit an all-time high of more than $120 million, nearly doubling the amount of spending since fiscal year 2017. Total research spending reached $180 million, a 50% leap since fiscal year 2019.
Researchers made discoveries critical to protecting the health of people in Kansas and beyond.
Across KU Medical Center, researchers tackled many areas of human health, including confirming the benefits of walking 10,000 steps, providing some need-to-know facts about following a ketogenetic diet and publishing the one of the first peer-reviewed articles about the necessity of physical activity for people taking weight-loss medications such as Wegovy and Ozempic.
KU Medical Center became the only institution in the region with a cryogenic electron microscope.
Also known as cryo-EM, the microscope that arrived on campus in April produces three-dimensional images, at nearly atomic resolution, of proteins, viruses and other biomolecules. These detailed images are critical to understanding what causes different diseases and designing drugs to treat them.
A federal grant was awarded to bridge the gap between research and clinical practice.
KU Medical was awarded an $11.5 grant from the National Institutes of Health to find ways to shorten the time it takes for research knowledge to make its way out of the lab and into the clinic through the creation of the Implementation Science for Equity Center, which is part of the NIH’s prestigious Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) program.
KU Medical Center continued to fight COVID-19.
The federal public health emergency for COVID-19 ended in 2023, but protecting people from the disease and its aftermath remains a priority. Efforts to treat long COVID, which affects as many as 10% of Americans who have had COVID-19, have been hindered by the lack of standard definition. KU Medical Center was part of an NIH-sponsored study that established a clinical definition of long COVID, which can be used to design testing and treatment.
KU Medical Center made strides in advancing rural health.
Population health researchers at KU received a nearly $3.7 million federal award to address chronic diseases in Grant, Finney, Ford and Seward counties in Southwest Kansas. KU Medical Center was also awarded a HRSA grant that will train more pulmonary rehabilitation specialists for rural parts of the state, where the need is great.
Academic programs continued to earn top rankings nationally.
In the latest U.S. News and World Report rankings, KU School of Medicine ranked 5th among all public medical schools in the country in the percentage of physicians practicing in rural areas and 9th among public institutions in producing primary care physicians. The health care management and public health programs both placed in the top 50 for public institutions.
KU’s undergraduate nursing program rose to No. 17 in the nation among public schools and ranked 23rd among all schools in the U.S. News rankings. U.S. News ranks different programs in different years. Other KU Medical Center programs that have a current ranking in the top 50 among public institutions include physical therapy (6), speech-language pathology (6), occupational therapy (9), audiology (10), nurse-midwifery (11), nurse anesthesia (14).