National Institutes of Health Funding to Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery at U.S. Medical Schools.J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2017 Jan 18; 99(2):e5.JB
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the largest supporter of biomedical research in the U.S., yet its contribution to orthopaedic research is poorly understood. In this study, we analyzed the portfolio of NIH funding to departments of orthopaedic surgery at U.S. medical schools.
The NIH RePORT (Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools) database was queried for NIH grants awarded to departments of orthopaedic surgery in 2014. Funding totals were determined for award mechanisms and NIH institutes. Trends in NIH funding were determined for 2005 to 2014 and compared with total NIH extramural research funding. Funding awarded to orthopaedic surgery departments was compared with that awarded to departments of other surgical specialties in 2014. Characteristics of NIH-funded principal investigators were obtained from department web sites.
In 2014, 183 grants were awarded to 132 investigators at 44 departments of orthopaedic surgery. From 2005 to 2014, NIH funding increased 24.3%, to $54,608,264 (p = 0.030), but the rates of increase seen did not differ significantly from those of NIH extramural research funding as a whole (p = 0.141). Most (72.6%) of the NIH funding was awarded through the R01 mechanism, with a median annual award of $343,980 (interquartile range [IQR], $38,372). The majority (51.1%) of the total funds supported basic science research, followed by translational (33.0%), clinical (10.0%), and educational (5.9%) research. NIH-funded orthopaedic principal investigators were predominately scientists whose degree was a PhD (71.1%) and who were male (79.5%). Eleven NIH institutes were represented, with the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) providing the preponderance (74.2%) of the funding. In 2014, orthopaedic surgery ranked below the surgical departments of general surgery, ophthalmology, obstetrics and gynecology, otolaryngology, and urology in terms of NIH funding received.
The percentage increase of NIH funding to departments of orthopaedic surgery from 2005 to 2014 was not significantly greater than that of total NIH extramural research funding. Funding levels to orthopaedic surgery departments lag behind funding to departments of other surgical disciplines. Funding levels may not match the academic potential of orthopaedic faculty, and interventions may be needed to increase NIH grant procurement.