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Patterns Of National Institute Of Health Grant Funding To Surgical Research And Scholarly Productivity In The United States
*Jose Wilson Mesquita-Neto1, *William Dailey1, *Francis I Macedo2, Nipun B Merchant3
1Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit Medical Center, Detroit, MI;2University of Central Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL;3University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, FL

OBJECTIVE(S): The National Institutes of Health (NIH) remains the primary public funding source for surgical research. We sought to assess the contemporary trends in NIH-grants awarded to surgical investigators, including potential disparities.
METHODS: The NIH RePORTER was queried for new grants(R-01,-03,-21) awarded to Departments of Surgery(DoS,2008-2018).Principal Investigators’(PIs) data were extracted from publicly available information from their institutions’ websites or professional social media accounts.
RESULTS: NIH awarded 1,101 new grants to DoS(total:$389,006,782; median:$313,030). Funding to DoS has doubled over last 10 years ($22,983,500-2008 to $49,446,076-2018). General surgeons (31%) and surgical oncologists (20.8%) accounted for higher percentage of the grants. Most PIs(56.2%) were Professors (median years of experience(YoE) 12,IQR 12). Only 24.7% of the projects were led by female PIs, who were predominantly non-physician PhD scientists (52%vs. 37.7%, PhD-only male PIs;P=0.002). PIs with 24+ YoE were awarded higher grant sums ($380,000vs. $312,000;P<0.001). These grants funded 8,215 publications, however only 13.2% were published on high impact journals (IF>10). 4.4% of the projects resulted in patents, and these were associated with higher awards ($345,801vs. $311,350;P=0.030). On multivariate analysis, combined MD/PhD degree (OR 5.98;95%CI 2.18-16.39;P<0.001) was associated with improved odds of patent creation; conversely, practicing PI surgeons affected it negatively (OR 0.31;95%CI 0.11-0.85;P=0.024).
CONCLUSIONS: While the funding to DoS has doubled in the last 10 years, the majority of NIH grants are awarded to experienced, higher-ranked male investigators. Female investigators are underrepresented, especially among practicing surgeons. DoS should decrease this inequality in groundbreaking research by stimulating female and junior faculty to compete for NIH grants.


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