NIH Fuels North Carolina Life Sciences with $2.1 Billion in 2022 Funding

By Alex Keown
March 27, 2023

The 2022 life sciences ecosystem in the Research Triangle Park and across North Carolina is driven by more than $2 billion in grants and contracts from the National Institutes of Health.

The federal agency awarded $2.164 billion to research institutions across the state, with Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill receiving the lion’s share of the funding. Its share of NIH funding has significantly increased over the past several years. In 2015, the NIH awarded $1.2 billion to N.C. research institutions.  

The other major recipients of NIH money in 2022 were Research Triangle Institute, PPD, Inc. and Wake Forest University Health Science Center, according to an analysis of NIH conducted by United for Medical Research.

Some of the 2022 NIH funding included a $65 million award to the University of North Carolina to establish an Antiviral Drug Discovery Center (AViDD). The new center will develop antivirals that could combat future pandemic-level viruses, UNC announced last year. AViDD will research and validate novel viral targets and attempt to identify small molecules and biotherapeutics that can be used to prevent infection. The ADDC is affiliated with the school’s Rapidly Emerging Antiviral Drug Development Initiative, which was established by the NIH to develop oral therapeutics for viruses that have a high potential to cause a pandemic in the future, UNC said. The NIH awarded approximately $500 million to UNC in 2022.

Duke University secured NIH awards to support various drug development activities, including potential treatments for rare cancers and the investigation of new vaccines. In all, Duke secured more than $700 million in 2022 NIH funding. The university ranked ninth in the nation among academic medical centers. Overall, Duke has ranked in the top 10 in NIH research funding nationally in 19 of the last 22 years, the university announced earlier this year.

In 2021 the NIH funded a partnership between UNC and Duke and research institutions in Texas to focus on treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The Duke/University of North Carolina Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and the South Texas Alzheimer’s Disease Center have each been awarded $14.8 million over five years to support dementia-related research.

In 2022, the NIH awarded approximately $36.68 billion to researchers across the nation. North Carolina ranked fourth among states that received NIH funding. California received $5.1 billion, New York received $3.7 billion and Massachusetts received $3.3 billion.

It is estimated that for every $1 the NIH awards, there is a corresponding $2.64 of economic activity. United for Medical Research announced the $2.64 billion awarded in North Carolina supported 34,473 jobs and $5.27 billion of economic activity in the Tar Heel State. North Carolina is home to about 5,814 biopharmaceutical businesses and 89,741 pharmaceutical industry jobs.