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JAMA. 1999 Mar 24-31;281(12):1093-8.

Market forces and unsponsored research in academic health centers.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston 02114, USA.



Increased competitive pressures on academic health centers may result in reduced discretionary funds from patient care revenues to support the performance of unsponsored research, including institutionally funded and faculty-supported activities.


To measure the amount and distribution of unsponsored research activities and their outcomes.


Survey conducted in academic year 1996-1997 of 2336 research faculty in 117 medical schools. Responses were weighted to provide national estimates.


Institutionally funded research as a proportion of total direct costs of research was compared across stages of market competition. Logistic regression was used to assess the relationship of performing unsponsored research to faculty characteristics and market stage.


Overall, 43% of faculty received institutional funding for research. Young faculty were more likely than others to receive institutional support (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 1.4; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1-1.9; P = .004). The amount of institutional support as a proportion of total funding was more than twice as high in less competitive markets (6.1%) compared with the most competitive markets (2.5%; P = .05). Most faculty (55%) performed faculty-supported research. Clinical researchers (OR, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.1-2.3), principal investigators (OR, 4.3; 95% CI, 2.8-7.0), faculty with high levels of research effort (OR, 6.2; 95% CI, 4.0-9.5) or institutional funding (OR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.4-2.6), and faculty in the most competitive markets (OR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.4-2.5) were more likely than others to conduct faculty-supported research. When undertaken by clinical researchers, these activities were supported by clinical income, extra hours worked, and discretionary funds, and often led to publications (76%) or grant awards (51%).


Many academic health center faculty receive institutional support to conduct their research or fund the research themselves. Market pressures may be affecting the level of institutional funding available to faculty.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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