The University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB) is in the top 1% of “public, private and international organizations” funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), according to a press release from the university.

The press release, released Monday to commemorate the decade-long tenure of current UAB President Ray Watts, said that Watts’s time at UAB brought in $5.3 billion in research funding. UAB received $715 million in fiscal year (FY) 2023 alone.

Over $58 million of this funding came from the NIH through 139 awards.

Since 2020, the NIH has awarded UAB almost $975 million.

The NIH is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It includes the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which Dr. Anthony Facui headed from 1984 to December 2022. 

Fauci has been accused of lying about funding gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China. Gain-of-function research involves genetically altering organisms to enhance their biological functions. Fauci retired from the NIH in December, but Congress is still investigating his role in the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of the $975 million in NIH funding to UAB, roughly 19% came from the NIAID.

Other universities in Alabama, both public and private, have taken money from the NIH in the past, such as Auburn University, the University of Alabama, Tuskegee University, Alabama State University and the University of Alabama Huntsville, but the NIH has not funded any of them as much as UAB.

Watts became president of UAB following the Great Recession of 2008 and has led the university and its medical facilities through a rapid period of expansion. 

Under Watt’s tenure, UAB launched new programs like biomedical engineering, medical sociology and music technology, and enrollment grew by 17%, even as undergraduate enrollment decreased nationally. 

In an interview with ABC 33/40 on Monday, Watts lauded UAB for being one of the few hospitals in the state to mandate vaccines for medical employees, even though the hospital briefly withdrew the requirement before implementing it again when the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced hospitals would risk losing Medicare and Medicaid funding if the medical staff is not fully vaccinated.

Some state attorneys general, including Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, subsequently sued the CMS, but the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the requirement in January 2022.

UAB is the largest hospital in Alabama by bed size. According to the World Population Review, it is the third largest employer in Alabama, preceded only by Walmart and Redstone Arsenal. UAB employs over 26,000 people in the state.

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