Department of Internal Medicine Climbs in NIH Rankings

Now 59th in NIH funding among departments nationwide
A brightly-colored petri dish with cell cultures

While known for its superb clinical care, RUSH University Medical Center’s Department of Internal Medicine also has been climbing in the rankings of support from the National Institutes of Health, rising by nearly 30 spots in less than a decade to become the 59th most NIH-funded department, according to the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research. 

Jochen Reiser, MD, PhD, the chairperson of the Department of Internal Medicine and the Ralph C. Brown, MD, Professor of Internal Medicine at RUSH University, joined the Medical Center in 2012. At that time, he wanted to grow the clinical enterprise and also increase the Department of Internal Medicine's research footprint and bring in additional medical opportunities. 

In 2012, the Medical Center was ranked No. 87 out of the 116 programs that made the Blue Ridge Institute’s list of top departments of internal medicine, out of thousands of institutions across the United States. In the subsequent decade, the Medical Center’s research operation continued to grow its external funding scope, with the Department of Internal Medicine its frontrunner. 

By 2020, the department had climbed up Blue Ridge’s rankings by 28 spots, the most in the nation during that time. 

“This is a reflection of a lot of work by a lot of people over a long period of time,” Reiser said. “It’s about an institutional culture of research, a growing infrastructure that promotes clinical investigation and hiring top researchers while mentoring our own.” 

“It is also a reflection of the talent and hard work of the researchers we have here. By increasing funding, we can reinvest in our academic mission, which is good for the entire institution and ultimately our patients.” 

NIH grants are extremely competitive, and being awarded one signals that a researcher is one of the top scientific investigators in their field. The fact that the internal medicine department has risen in the rankings at such a rate is a reflection of the institution’s commitment to advancing medicine. 

“It means that cutting-edge research that is going to change clinical practice is conducted here,” Reiser said. “The practitioners at RUSH are helping to lead the field in trying to diagnose, treat and prevent disease. Our discoveries are medicine in motion that will benefit our patients here and everywhere.”