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Surgery. 2004 Aug;136(2):232-9.

Recent trends in the funding and utilization of NIH career development awards by surgical faculty.

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Division of Pediatric Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA.



Career development awards (K-awards) from the National Institutes of Health comprise the most significant mechanism of research funding for junior faculty. This study compared the funding success rates and utilization of these awards between faculty from surgical departments and those from nonsurgical departments.


Success rates for major career development awards were obtained from the National Institutes of Health and compared between departments of surgery and four other clinical departments during 1992 to 2002. The number of faculty associated with these departments was obtained from the American Association of Medical Colleges and used to compare K-award utilization between groups during 1998 to 2002.


Success rates for award proposals designed for clinical scientists were consistently lower when originating from departments of surgery compared with other clinical departments (combined K08, K23, and K24 pool: Surgery 41.3%; range of nonsurgery 46.7-57.5%, P = .009 vs nonsurgical group). Nonsurgeons were 2.5 times (range 2.0-7.8) more likely to apply for any type of career development award compared with surgeons (P < .01 for all awards).


Surgeons are less likely to apply for career development awards, and those who do are less likely to be successful compared with their nonsurgical peers. Innovative strategies are needed to increase the number and success of career development proposals submitted by surgical faculty.

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