Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeons Achieve High Rates of K Award Conversion Into R01 Funding

Adishesh K. Narahari, J. Hunter Mehaffey, Robert B. Hawkins, Pranav K. Baderdinni, Anirudha S. Chandrabhatla, Curtis G. Tribble, Irving L. Kron, Mark E. Roeser, Dustin M. Walters, Gorav Ailawadi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background: Obtaining National Institutes of Health (NIH) R01 funding remains extremely difficult. The utility of career development grants (K awards) for achieving the goal of R01 funding remains debated, particularly for surgeon–scientists. We examined the success rate for cardiothoracic and vascular (CTV) surgeons compared with other specialties in converting K-level grants into R01 equivalents. Methods: All K (K08 and K23) grants awarded to surgeons by the NIH between 1992 and 2017 were identified through NIH Research Portfolio Online Report Tools (RePORTER), an online database combining funding, publications, and patents. Only grants awarded to CTV surgeons were included. Grants active within the past year were excluded. Mann-Whitney U tests and χ 2 tests were used to compare groups. Results: During this period, 62 K grants were awarded to CTV surgeons. The analysis excluded 16 grants that were still active within the last year. Twenty-two (48%) of the remaining K awardees successfully transitioned to an R01 or equivalent grant. Awardees with successful conversion published nine publications per K grant compared with four publications for those who did not convert successfully (p = 0.01). The median time for successful conversion to an R grant was 5.0 years after the K award start date. Importantly, the 10-year conversion rate to R01 was equal for CTV surgeons compared with other clinician–investigators (52.6% vs 42.5%). Conclusions: CTV surgeons have an equal 10-year conversion rate to the first R01 award compared with other clinicians. These data suggest that NIH achieves a good return on investment when funding CTV surgeon–scientists with K-level funding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)602-607
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Thoracic Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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