Southern Association for Vascular Surgery
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NIH Funding Among Vascular Surgeons is Rare and Aligns Poorly with Society for Vascular Surgery Priorities
Amin A Mirzaie, Michol A Cooper, Christopher R Jacobs, Morgan L Cox, Scott A Berceli, Salvatore T Scali, Thomas S Huber, Martin R Back, Gilbert R Upchurch, Samir K Shah
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

INTRODUCTION: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is an essential source of funding for vascular surgeon scientists. NIH funding is frequently used to benchmark institutional and individual research productivity, help determine eligibility for academic promotion, and as a measure of scientific quality. We sought to determine NIH-funded vascular surgeon characteristics along with amounts, types, and content areas of NIH funding. In addition, we also sought to determine whether funded grants addressed recent Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) research priorities.
METHODS: In April 2022, we queried the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools Expenditures and Results (RePORTER) database for active projects. We only included projects that had a vascular surgeon as a principal investigator (PI) and excluded for-profit organization projects. We also excluded projects funded by NIH training awards (T Grants). Grant characteristics were extracted from the RePORTER database. PI demographics and academic background information were identified by searching institution profiles. All statistical analysis was conducted using R (R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria).
RESULTS: There were 53 active NIH awards given to 40 vascular surgeon-scientists. Only 1% (40/3943) of all vascular surgeons in the United States are receiving NIH funding. Funded vascular surgeon-scientists are an average of 15.9 years out of training; 62.5% (n=25) are men. (Table 1). The majority of awards (60.4%, n=32) were R01 grants. Among the active NIH-funded projects, 77.4% (n=41) are basic/translational research projects, while 22.6% (n=12) are clinical/health services research projects. Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) and peripheral arterial disease (PAD) are the most commonly funded disease areas; they accounted for 56% (n=30) of projects. Only 15% (n=8) of the NIH-funded projects meet one of the ten clinical research priorities defined by the SVS. Four SVS clinical research priorities are not addressed by any of the current NIH-funded projects (Table 2).
CONCLUSIONS: NIH funding of vascular surgeon-scientists is infrequent and is predominantly allocated towards basic/translational research projects focused on AAA and PAD research. Funded grants align modestly at best with the Society for Vascular Surgery's (SVS) clinical research priorities. The SVS and vascular surgery training programs should use this data to reassess and reconsider current strategies to produce future vascular surgeon scientists.

Investigator Characteristics
NIH Funded Investigatorsn=40
Years out after Training (Years)15.8
MD Only22 (55)
MD/PHD12 (30)
MD/MS, MBA, MPH, JD6 (15)
Men25 (62.5)
Women15 (37.5)
Investigators with only 1 grant31 (77.5)

Grant Characteristics
Active NIH Funded Projectsn=53
Disease Focus:
Peripheral Arterial Disease16 (30.2)
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm14 (26.4)
Research Type:
Basic/Translational41 (77.4)
Clinical/Health Services12 (22.6)
Specific Funding Mechanism:
R0132 (60.4)
K085 (9.4)

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