Objective: To determine trends in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for cardiac surgeons, hypothesizing they are at a disadvantage in obtaining funding owing to intensive clinical demands. Methods: Cardiac surgeons (adult/congenital) currently at the top 141 NIH-funded institutions were identified using institutional websites. The NIH funding history for each cardiac surgeon was queried using the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools Expenditures and Results (RePORTER). Total grant funding, publications, and type was collected. Academic rank, secondary degrees, and fellowship information was collected from faculty pages. Grant productivity was calculated using a validated grant impact metric. Results: A total of 818 academic cardiac surgeons were identified, of whom 144 obtained 293 NIH grants totaling $458 million and resulting in 6694 publications. We identified strong associations between an institution's overall NIH funding rank and the number of cardiac surgeons, NIH grants to cardiac surgeons, and amount of NIH funding to cardiac surgeons (P < .0001 for all). The majority of NIH funding to cardiac surgeons is concentrated in the top quartile of institutions. Cardiac surgeons had a high conversion rates from K awards (mentored development awards) to R01s (6 of 14; 42.9%). Finally, we demonstrate that the rate of all NIH grants awarded to cardiac surgeons has increased, driven primarily by P and U (collaborative project) grants. Conclusions: NIH-funded cardiac surgical research has had a significant impact over the last 3 decades. Aspiring cardiac surgeon-scientists may be more successful at top quartile institutions owing to better infrastructure and mentorship.
- NIH funding
- cardiac surgery research
- surgeon scientists
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine