Patterns of National Institutes of Health Grant Funding to Surgical Research and Scholarly Productivity in the United States.


North Florida


North Florida Regional Medical Center

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Adult, Biomedical Research, Female, Financing, Government, General Surgery, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, National Institutes of Health (U.S.), Publishing, Research Support as Topic, Time Factors, United States




OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to assess the contemporary trends in National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants awarded to surgical investigators, including potential disparities.

BACKGROUND: The NIH remains the primary public funding source for surgical research in the United States; however, the patterns for grants and grantees are poorly understood.

METHODS: NIH RePORTER was queried for new grants (R01, -03, -21) awarded to Departments of Surgery (DoS). Principal investigators' (PIs) data were extracted from publicly available information from their institutions' websites and/or professional social media accounts.

RESULTS: The NIH awarded 1101 new grants (total: $389,006,782; median: $313,030) between 2008 and 2018. Funding to DoS has doubled in the last 10 years ($22,983,500-2008 to $49,446,076-2018). Midwest/Southeast institutions and surgical oncologists accounted for majority of the grants (31.9% and 24.5%, respectively). Only 24.7% of the projects were led by female PIs, who were predominantly nonphysician PhD scientists (52% vs 37.7% PhD-only male PIs; P = 0.002). During this time, there was a significant increase from 12.4% to 31.7% in grants awarded to PIs with >15 years of experience. These grants were associated with 8215 publications; however, only 13.2% were published in high-impact journals (impact factor ≥10). 4.4% of the grants resulted in patents, and these were associated with higher award amounts ($345,801 vs $311,350; P = 0.030). On multivariate analysis, combined MD/PhD degree [odds ratio (OR) 5.98; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.18-16.39; P < 0.001] was associated with improved odds of patent creation; conversely, practicing surgeon PIs affected patent creation negatively (OR 0.31; 95% CI 0.11-0.85; P = 0.024).

CONCLUSION: In the last decade, a greater proportion of NIH grants in DoS were awarded to more experienced investigators. Disparities exist among grantees, and female investigators are underrepresented, especially among practicing surgeons.

Publisher or Conference

Annals of Surgery