Can Lung Transplant Surgeons Still Be Scientists? High Productivity Despite Competitive Funding

  • Adishesh Kalya Narahari Division of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
  • Eric J. Charles Division of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
  • J. Hunter Mehaffey Division of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
  • Robert B. Hawkins Division of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
  • Ashish K Sharma Division of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
  • Victor E. Laubach Division of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
  • Curtis G. Tribble Division of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
  • Irving L. Kron Division of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA

Abstract

Background: Today’s declining federal budget for scientific research is making it consistently more difficult to become federally funded. We hypothesized that even in this difficult era, surgeon-scientists have remained among the most productive and impactful researchers in lung transplantation.

Methods: Grants awarded by the NIH for the study of lung transplantation between 1985 and 2015 were identified by searching NIH RePORTER for 5 lung transplantation research areas. A grant impact metric was calculated for each grant by dividing the sum of impact factors for all associated manuscripts by the total funding for that grant. We used nonparametric univariate analysis to compare grant impact metrics by department.

Results: We identified 109 lung transplantation grants, totaling approximately $300 million, resulting in 2304 papers published in 421 different journals. Surgery has the third highest median grant impact metric (4.2 per $100,000). The department of surgery had a higher median grant impact metric compared to private companies (P <.0001). There was no statistical difference in the grant impact metric compared to all other medical specialties, individual departments with multiple grants, or all basic science departments (all P >.05).

Conclusions: Surgeon-scientists in the field of lung transplantation have received fewer grants and less total funding compared to other researchers but have maintained an equally high level of productivity and impact. The dual-threat academic surgeon-scientist is an important asset to the research community and should continue to be supported by the NIH.

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Published
2019-01-08
Section
Articles