Straight from the study section, inspired by Chad Orzel, here’s how the NCAA men’s tournament promises to unfold, based on total NIH funding awarded to each college in 2010. We can’t assume that the school with more governmentally supported biomedical research will always win, but that’s probably the best prediction method now available.

The NIH bracket picks seem more astute than the physics-rankings bracket. We could have a Princeton – Penn State – Illinois – UCSB Final Four, but I’m putting my money on Washington – Michigan – Pitt – Vanderbilt.

Excerpt displayed; click the image or click here for the full bracket. Click here for pdf.


  • This is entirely based on the 2010 “Domestic Higher Education” spreadsheet available from the NIH here [downloadable .xls file]. I sorted it by the name of the institution [column A], tried to find any instances of an institution being listed under multiple names, and for each institution, added up the total dollars awarded [column G]. Next to each team is the amount of NIH funding [in thousands].
  • For a school that is part of a large university system, I didn’t include all the funding for its other campuses, unless they’re in the same city as the school itself. This leads to UT-San Antonio getting credit for the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and Arkansas-Little Rock getting credit for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
  • This rule hurt universities whose medical school or health science center is not in the same place as the main campus, particularly Tennessee, Texas [Austin], Kansas, Penn State and UConn. Although Kansas would still lose the 1-16 game if we include the Medical Center in Kansas City.


  • UNLV only got a million dollars from the NIH this year? Half as much as the Oakland Golden Grizzlies? UNLV is a huge research university. What are they doing over there?
  • Yes, Villanova were awarded no NIH funding last year. $0, less than Earlham College or Bloomsburg. They were on the 2009 spreadsheet, thanks to Dr. Jennifer Palenchar‘s work on trypanosome RNA synthesis.
  • Yes, that’s exactly $8,000 for Indiana State. And it’s not to set up a website or something, it’s to Dr. Allan Albig for “Mechanisms by which MAGP-2 promotes angiogenesis”. A small carryover from the $153,000 he got in 2009.
  • The least-funded school in the NIH Sweet Sixteen is Marquette, barely beating out BYU.
  • Tough result for the ACC, with Duke and UNC losing to juggernauts in the first weekend.
  • The overall champion’s performance is especially impressive since it doesn’t include the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center.