NIH Funding of Researchers in Surgery: Decreased Career Development Awards Over Time

Academic Article


  • Background: Over time, NIH funding has become increasingly competitive. In addition, academic surgeons’ research competes with time required for patient care, operating, and administrative work. Due to these competing interests for surgeons, we hypothesize that the percentage of NIH grants awarded to researchers from departments of surgery is decreasing. Methods: The NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tool was queried for the number and value of new and renewal R01 grants, and career development awards noting which surgery departments received awards from 1998 to -2018. Statistical analysis was performed using univariate and multivariable logistic regression. Results: The number of career development awards granted to researchers from departments of surgery decreased significantly over time (P = 0.007) while new R01's and R01 renewal awards were stable. The number of grants awarded to researchers from all procedural departments were compared to non-procedural departments and again, career development awards decreased significantly (P = 0.005) over time but new R01's and R01 renewals stayed stable. Looking at the difference in average dollar amount received for new R01, renewal R01, or career development awards between department of surgery awardees and non-surgery over time, there was no significant difference. Conclusions: NIH funding is becoming increasingly competitive and surgeons have many competing interests. Our study found that there has been a significant decrease in career development awards to department of surgery awardees and procedural specialists. The decrease in receipt of these awards is particularly concerning given that they are meant to provide protected time for developing researchers and thus have potential consequences for future research.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Smithson M; McLeod MC; Chu DI; Kennedy G; Morris M; Chen H; Hardiman KM
  • Start Page

  • 6
  • End Page

  • 12
  • Volume

  • 266