Study: Senior physician-scientists received 58% of NIH pediatric research grant funding since 2012

More than half (58 percent) of pediatric research project grants from the National Institutes of Health awarded during a five-year period were given to senior-level physicians from a relatively small number of institutions, according to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics Jan. 16.

For the study, researchers from several academic medical institutions culled the NIH database on pediatric research project, or R01, grants awarded to scientists at medical institutions and hospitals from 2012 to 2017. Researchers learned 2,471 individual pediatric R01 grants were awarded to 1,593 scientists during the time frame. Of those, 907 were awarded to pediatric physician-scientists.

The results of the study suggest:

  • More than half (58 percent) of the pediatric R01 grants awarded from 2012 to 2017 were given to senior-level physician-scientists.
  • A total of 15 institutions received more than half (63 percent) of the pediatric R01 grants awarded during the time frame.
  • Pediatric physician-scientists specializing in hematology-oncology received the most R01 grants, followed by pediatric physician-scientists specializing in general academic pediatrics and infectious diseases.
  • The majority of recipients were male, had obtained full professorship status and held leadership roles such as chief or dean of their organizations.

"The paucity of awards for junior scientists raises concern about the ability to motivate and develop young trainees to become pediatric physician-scientists," said James Wynn, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at Gainesville-based University of Florida Health and the study's senior author.

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