Eric G. Neilson, MD

This year, for the first time, Northwestern University topped $1 billion in research funding, with Feinberg scientists securing $706 million, a nearly nine percent increase over the prior year and the largest amount in our school’s history.

This achievement is something everyone associated with Northwestern Medicine can take pride in. It represents the collective effort of every faculty member on our campus who brings ideas from the bench to the bedside to the community, and every trainee who seeks answers to pressing problems. It includes every alumnus and donor who funds a creative spark, every person and team working diligently in a lab to conduct experiments, or in the clinic to save lives, and every staff member dedicated to research, education, and the transformation of human health. I am grateful for and inspired by this interconnected network of passionate and driven individuals.

So much of this work is enabled by the more than 349,000 research participants enrolled in clinical trials and research studies at Feinberg — a 44 percent increase in total active study participants since FY20. Without this group generously giving their time and their willingness to receive new treatments, translating funding and ideas into proven therapies and shared knowledge would not be possible.

Reaching new heights in research funding suggests we are succeeding in this prestigious and competitive environment.

Eric G. Neilson, MD

In this issue, I am delighted to share stories about projects that represent our basic, clinical, and translational scientific aspirations. In “Paving the Road to Game-Changing Weight Loss in America”, our investigators worked with research participants from around the country to gain insight into how new anti-obesity therapies can improve overall health, and potentially transform primary care for people who are obese.

In “Master of Mitochondria”, we share the life’s work of a faculty member who has spent decades studying the impact of mitochondria on health and disease — reviving a field of research while mentoring numerous trainees along the way. His work recently earned him the prestigious Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences by the Foundation for the National Institutes for Health.

“Trusting Your Gut”, brings us to an emerging and fast-growing area of scientific inquiry. Teams across the enterprise are making compelling discoveries leveraging the gut microbiome to improve health outcomes, from improving diagnostics to understanding the molecular underpinnings of a wide spectrum of disease.

Biomedical discovery, whether in nascent areas of inquiry or in fields of research long overdue for a breakthrough, is fueled by vigorous effort in precisely the right environment. It requires plenty of funding and steadfast sponsors undaunted by localized setbacks. It takes the right mix of people thinking, creating, volunteering, testing, and analyzing. Scale is important, as is partnering with innovative and diverse affiliates.

Reaching new heights in research funding suggests we are succeeding in this prestigious and competitive environment. Now it’s up to us to deliver on that promise. What we do here and how we improve human health will ultimately determine our lasting legacy.

With warm regards,

Eric G. Neilson, MD
Vice President for Medical Affairs
Lewis Landsberg Dean
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine