Research Summary by Dr. Yvette Pittman
Based on the following article:
“Association of National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Career Development Awards with Subsequent Research Project Grant Funding”
Authors: Dennis A. Twombly, PhD; Sarah L. Glavin, PhD; Jennifer Guimond, PhD; Susan Taymans, PhD; Catherine Y. Spong, MD; Diana W. Bianchi, MD
For more than 30 years, NICHD has demonstrated a strong commitment to training and career development programs (between 4.8-7.0% of its extramural funding). The overarching goal of NIH career development awards is to invest in the next generation of biomedical researchers, providing the necessary training and mentoring for young scientists to advance in their careers and conduct research independently. For this category of extramural funding, there are two major grant mechanisms: at the institutional level and individual awards.
When compared to other institutes of a similar size, NICHD has historically provided more funding to institutional career development programs. For example, NICHD allocated 38.3% of their extramural training dollars to institutional training awards in fiscal year 2014, and other institutes were steadily less than 11.2%. This significant difference was due to NICHD’s investment in the K12 program, which provides support to domestic institutions that mentor clinical fellows and scientists to help them become independent research investigators. While at the same time, the NICHD success rates for individual career development awards have decreased drastically since 2000. In comparison, the success rates of other institutes were significantly higher. For example, the success rate for individual K08 and K23 awards were 44.6% and 45.2% for NIDDK in 2016 and 13.6% and 19.7% for NICHD, respectively.
Twombly et al. examined a cohort of 355 physician-scientists from the NICHD extramural training portfolio between 1999 and 2001; the scholars were divided into two subgroups: those with only an MD and those with both an MD and a PhD. The authors analyzed who received institutional career development awards and/or individual grants from the NICHD, and whether those physician-scientists secured subsequent funding as principal investigators (e.g. R01 awards).
Among the MD-only group, those who received an individual award or both an individual and institutional award were significantly more likely to apply and receive subsequent grant funding when compared to individuals who were only supported by an NICHD institutional award. From their cohort of scholars with a dual MD/PhD degree, the NIH research grant application and funding rates were not related to the type of training career development support received (institutional only, individual only, or both).
With regards to career outcomes, a majority of the physician-scientists in this cohort study were actively in academic careers, and this association was not based on what type of career development support received. However, it was noticeable that scholars with only institutional support were more likely to pursue a career in clinical care, when compared to those who received an individual award only or both individual and institutional.
Based on these significant findings—and with the ultimate goal to preserve the pipeline of our physician-scientists—NICHD plans to provide a greater percentage of its training and career development funding allocation to individual awards while continuing to support the institutional programs.