Trends and Predictors of National Institutes of Health Funding to Plastic Surgery Residency Programs

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Abstract

Background:

Recent studies have demonstrated low levels of National Institutes of Health funding for surgical research. The authors compared the funding in plastic surgery with the funding for other surgical specialties.

Methods:

A query of National Institutes of Health grants awarded to departments of surgical specialties was performed using the National Institutes of Health RePORTER database (2008 to 2016). Trends in funding were compared by specialty and adjusted for the number of active physicians in each specialty. Plastic surgery residency program characteristics were correlated with funding procurement.

Results:

Eight hundred eighty-nine faculty at 94 plastic surgery residency programs were queried. Forty-eight investigators (5.4 percent) at 23 programs (24.4 percent) had National Institutes of Health funding. From 2008 to 2016, a total of $84,142,138 was awarded through 81 grants. Funding supported translational (44.6 percent), clinical (26.4 percent), basic science (27.2 percent), and educational (1.7 percent) research. In 2016, plastic surgery received the least amount of National Institutes of Health funding per active physician ($1,530) relative to orthopedic surgery ($3124), obstetrics and gynecology ($3885), urology ($5943), otolaryngology ($9999), general surgery ($11,649), ophthalmology ($11,933), and neurologic surgery ($20,874). Plastic surgery residency program characteristics associated with National Institutes of Health funding were high ranking and had more than 10 clinical faculty (p < 0.05).

Conclusions:

Plastic surgery receives the least National Institutes of Health funding among the surgical specialties. Departments and divisions of plastic surgery should support investigators applying for research grants to increase future National Institutes of Health funding.

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