Duke University Medical Center received the fifth-highest amount of funding among U.S. medical schools from the National Institute of Health for the 2005 fiscal year.

Awards to Duke's medical center came to $349.8 million-an increase of $45 million from 2004.

The University received the largest increase in NIH funds compared to 2004 than any of the other top-20 recipients, with a growth of 14.8 percent from the previous year.

The growth comes despite only a small increase in NIH funding-2.2 percent in 2005. Since 1998, NIH's budget has increased up to 15 percent each year. This year, John Hopkins Medical Center topped the NIH funding list, garnering $449 million in 2005.

"The latest funding data from the NIH shows that even during tighter times in federal funding for research, Duke faculty continue to successfully compete for these prestigious grants," Dr. Sandy Williams, dean of Duke University's School of Medicine and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Duke University Medical Center, said in a statement.

Research grants accounted for $313 million of Duke's funding. The remainder was earmarked for training, fellowships and research and development.

The University's ranking echoes Duke's 2003 placement among NIH recipients.

Ross McKinney, vice dean for research in the School of Medicine, attributed the success to a unique "collaborative approach" among faculty to seek out NIH funding.

"They are all striving for peer-reviewed funding in a fiercely competitive environment," he said. "The level of increase reflects the quality of the research done at Duke, and the quality of our faculty."

The overall increase in NIH funding of 2.2 percent for the 2005 NIH budget represents the smallest percentage increase in decades.

Upon its approval, major NIH grant recipients--which expected a larger increase in funding--were forced to prepare for the tighter budget allocation.

Duke medical center researchers were affected by the stall in growth, McKinney said.

"Most individual projects are being reduced, and many good applications that would have been funded in the past were on the wrong side of the pay line," McKinney said.

"Our overall funding success masks a lot of painful choices that are having to be made," he added.