National Institutes Of Health (NIH) Career Development (K) Awards To Young Surgeons: An Academic Milestone Or One-hit Wonder?
*Jose Wilson Mesquita Neto1, *William Dailey1, *Donald Weaver1, *Jashodeep Datta2, *Francis Macedo3, Nipun Merchant2
1Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI;2Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center / University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL;3North Florida Regional Medical Center / University of Central Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL
OBJECTIVE(S): The National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides Career Development Awards(K08/K23) to nurture young clinicians towards a productive academic career, thereby maintaining a pipeline of physician-scientists. However, the impact of K awards on career trajectory of surgeons remains poorly understood.
METHODS: The NIH grant data was queried for all new K08/K23 grants awarded to Departments of Surgery from 1999-2019. Investigators’(PIs) data were manually extracted from publicly available information.
RESULTS: The NIH awarded 298 K08/23 surgical grants (US dollars $41,893,170) over the last two decades. Median budget increased from $116,370(1999) to $167,508(2019; P<0.001). Of grant recipients, 83.2% were MDs, 15.1% MD/PhDs and 1.7% PhDs. Women comprised 25.2% of grantees and had a higher proportion(19.2%) holding an MD/PhD degree (vs. males 13.7%; P=0.08). PIs were mostly practicing surgeons(91.1%) with fellowship training(82.4%) and young in their careers (5 [IQR 4] years of experience). Vascular surgery(12.8%), surgical oncology(12.1%) and critical care(11.7%) were the most frequent specialties. 3,336 publications were associated with the awards (median 8/project [IQR 13]). The majority of K grantees(77.2%) currently hold an academic faculty position. Only 32.2% achieved independent R01 grant, at a median of 5.5 years [IQR 5] after their K awards. Gender(P=0.701), fellowship training(P=0.721), subtype of K award(P=0.771) or MD/PhD degree(P=0.778) were not associated with increased likelihood of achieving a subsequent R award.
CONCLUSION: Although most K awardees maintain an academic career, only a limited number of grantees progress to obtain NIH R01 funding. Increased mentorship and infrastructure are needed to facilitate career development awardees opportunities for independent funding.
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