The top 5 healthcare institutions for scientific research in 2018

The largest contributors to papers published in leading journals tracked by the Nature Index from the healthcare sector in 2018.

27 August 2019

Bec Crew

UT Southwestern Medical Center

Zhijian 'James' Chen, Jinming Gao and Min Lua developed a promising nanoparticle vaccine for cancer immunotherapy.

The top five healthcare institutions have seen quite a bit of movement since 2015, but the Columbia University Irving Medical Center and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have consistently ranked highly.

After the institutions listed here, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; UW Medicine; Massachusetts General Hospital; and UCLA Health round out the top 10 for 2018.

View the 2019 Nature Index Annual Tables Top 100 healthcare institutions for 2018.

1. Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Fractional count: 122.89 (3.6%), Article count: 375

The Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) is a clinical, research and educational enterprise encompassing four professional colleges and schools located in northern Manhattan.

With more than 1,800 physicians, surgeons, dentists and nurses stationed throughout New York City, the organization boasts a strong patient care and research focus.

It counts among its achievements the first successful heart transplant in a child, the first use of the anti-seizure medication, dilantin, to treat epilepsy, and the isolation of the first known odour receptors in the nose.

It supported key discoveries related to how memory is stored in the brain, and Nobel Prize-winning developments in cardiac catheterization (1956 ) and cryo-electron microscopy (2017) - a technique used to reveal the structures of large biological molecules at atomic resolution.

The 2019 Annual Tables is the first time CUIMC has topped the healthcare institutions table, but it has been in the top three since 2015. Life sciences counts for the vast majority of its high-quality research output. Its principal institution, Columbia University, is ranked 25th in the 2019 Nature Index Annual Tables Top 100.

2. The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Fractional count: 120.06 (-24.9%), Article count: 260

The University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center had top slot in the Nature Index Annual Tables healthcare top 100 for three years from 2015, before being toppled by the Columbia University Irving Medical Center in 2018.

Its faculty of more than 2,500 include six who have been awarded Nobel Prizes since 1985, as well as 22 members of the National Academy of Sciences and 17 members of the National Academy of Medicine.

Its physicians, stationed across the Dallas-Fort Worth area, provide care to more than 105,000 hospitalized patients, nearly 370,000 emergency room cases and three million outpatient visits a year.

With approximately US$469.5 million per year to support some 5,800 research projects, the UT Southwestern Medical Center is among the first institutions in the US to use a new high-sensitivity blood test that cuts the time to diagnose a heart attack by more than half.

It’s also leading a five-year, NIH-funded investigation into new treatments for drug-resistant pathogens.

3. Duke University Health System

Fractional count: 99.47 (27.4%), Article count: 267

Operating three hospitals in North Carolina – the Duke University Hospital, Durham Regional Hospital and Duke Raleigh Hospital – the Duke University Health System counts almost 69,000 inpatient stays and nearly 2.3 million outpatient visits for 2018.

It forms a network of thousands with the Duke University School of Medicine and the Duke University School of Nursing to advance biomedical research and patient care under the Duke Health umbrella.

As one of the largest biomedical research enterprises in the US, with more than US$650 million annually in sponsored research expenditures (2016),

Duke Health is focused on research around conditions such as cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disease, autoimmune disorders, and metastatic cancer in the brain.

According to Adrian Hernandez, vice-dean for clinical research at Duke University School of Medicine, collaboration, both within the system and outside, is key.

“Our basic science and clinical faculty members strive to improve human health locally and globally through high-quality scientific research, and the translation of discoveries into the most advanced patient care,” he says.

4. Michigan Medicine (U-M)

Fractional count: 97.90 (-0.5%), Article count: 287

One of the largest healthcare complexes in the state, Michigan Medicine encompasses the University of Michigan (U-M) Health System, the University of Michigan Medical School, a legal entity called the Michigan Health Corp., and one of the largest biomedical research communities in the US.

Today it sees more than 2.4 million clinic visits annually and employs roughly 1,200 residents and fellows. The medical school, which itself counts more than 10,000 faculty, students and staff, ran 1,796 clinical trials, published 6,791 research papers, and raised more than US$588 million in funding in 2018.

Among Michigan Medicine’s research focusses are CAR-T cell therapy for cancer treatment, which has seen 82% of the 50 relapsing leukaemia patients in the trial go into remission (most of whom have remained in remission for more than six months), and new preventative responses to the current opioid crisis in the US.

5. UC San Diego Health Sciences

Fractional count: 96.67 (-8.1%), Article count: 374

With more than 50 years in operation, UC San Diego Health Sciences (UCSD Health Sciences) is a force in high-quality research output, ranking within the top six of healthcare institutions since 2015.

Encompassing the UCSD School of Medicine, the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and UCSD Health – one of five academic medical centres within the University of California system – it maintains collaborations with 11 countries around the world , as well as with renowned institutions such as the Salk Institute, Scripps Research and the Burnham Institute.

The UCSD School of Medicine, which supports more than 1,500 physicians and scientists and roughly 500 medical students, is consistently one of the top institutions in the US for federal research funding per faculty member.

It claims that more than half of the roughly 400 life sciences companies based in San Diego were founded based on technology developed at UC San Diego by its faculty and graduates .

View the 2019 Nature Index Annual Tables Top 100 healthcare institutions for 2018.

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