Massachusetts General Hospital stands apart from its peers thanks to the access its doctors have to the cutting-edge discoveries pursued by its scientists. Mass General’s new Research Institute is designed to capitalize on that unique doctor-scientist partnership in ways that advance the practice of medicine.
“At Mass General, the treatment you get tomorrow will be better than the treatment you get today because of our remarkable research enterprise.”
“At Mass General, the treatment you get tomorrow will be better than the treatment you get today because of our remarkable research enterprise,” says Susan Slaugenhaupt, PhD, scientific director of the Research Institute, which will guide, support and promote all Mass General research.
Impact of Financial Realities
With more than 6,000 staff members working across more than 30 institutes, centers and departments, Mass General is home to the nation’s largest hospital-based research enterprise. But even Mass General is feeling the impact of new financial realities.
In recent years, research funding provided by the federal government has leveled off. For example, Mass General received $331 million from the National Institutes of Health in fiscal year 2015, down 6.2% from a peak of $353 million in fiscal 2012.
Dr. Slaugenhaupt says dwindling federal dollars are more likely to go toward what she calls “safe science, not necessarily the most innovative science.” The Research Institute is trying to counter that trend. Its mission is to solidify the funding base of Mass General research and bolster its capacity to interact with industry, philanthropists and other entities that can provide the critical early support that researchers need to build a sustainable career in the field.
A Sustainable Research Future
The MGH Research Scholars Program, begun in 2011 and now part of the institute, seeks visionary philanthropists willing to support the work of outstanding individual researchers. The Research Institute aims to expand the program and make sure it is sustainable for the future.
“At the Research Institute, we like to refer to research at Mass General as “‘a thousand flowers blooming model,'” Dr. Slaugenhaupt says. “We don’t dictate the types of science taking place. Rather, we want to create an environment where researchers can ask risky questions and do cutting-edge science, and not worry so much about where the next dime is coming from.”
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