Thoracic Surgery Foundation Research Awards: Leading the Way to Excellence.

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BACKGROUND: Combining clinical and research excellence has become an increasingly difficult endeavor for thoracic surgeons, with typical success rates for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Cancer Institute being 25.1% and 11.3%, respectively. The Thoracic Surgery Foundation (TSF), which is an arm of The Society of Thoracic Surgeons, provides research awards and grants aimed at early career faculty to assist in securing federal peer-reviewed funding. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of these awards.

METHODS: Faculty awardees of the TSF research awards from 1995 to 2019 were included in the study. The scholarly work of awardees was assessed by using Scopus , MEDLINE, and Google Scholar for publications, citations, and h-index. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) RePorter and the Federal RePorter were used to search for any grants awarded to these individuals. For publications and citations associated with a TSF grant, a 4-year window from the time of the research award was used.

RESULTS: Fifty-two research awards were given to early career faculty during this study period, and 8 (15%) were awarded to MD PhDs. Six (12%) of awardees were female. Cardiac faculty members were awarded 27 (52%) awards, and general thoracic faculty members were awarded 25 (48%); of the cardiac faculty, 4 (17.4%) were congenital cardiac faculty. In the 4-year period after the TSF grant award, the mean number of published articles per awardee was 23 (interquartile range [IQR], 12 to 36), with a median citation count of 147 (IQR, 32 to 327). The current median h-index was 26 (IQR, 15 to 36), with 2323 (IQR, 1173 to 4568) median citations. Forty-eight percent of all awardees received at least 1 subsequent grant; 40.4% of these awardees received grants from the NIH, and 25% had 2 or more NIH grants. Comparing academic position at the time of the award with current position, 54% of awardees had an advancement in their professional rank. On analyzing leadership positions, 42% of awardees were division chiefs, 21% were associate clinical directors, and 28% were clinical directors.

CONCLUSIONS: Being a recipient of the TSF award may position an individual to excel in academic medicine, with a large portion of awardees improving their academic standing with time. The rate of successful NIH grant funding after being a TSF awardee is higher than typical institutional success rates.





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Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Surgery

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