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Kidney Week

Abstract: PO1387

Changes in the Demographics and Research Focus of Renal Physician-Scientists in the United States

Session Information

Category: Educational Research

  • 800 Educational Research

Authors

  • Abood, Delaney C., Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, United States
  • Wall, Susan M., Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Background

The enormous strides in biomedical research made over the past 50 years are in large part due to the contributions of physician-scientists. However, while the renal physician-scientist workforce has been thought to be falling, these changes have not been quantified. The purpose of this study was to compare changes in the demographics and the research focus of established physician and non-physician principal investigators (PIs) with active kidney-focused RO1s in 2005 and in 2020. We also compared changes in the demographics and research focus of more junior physician PIs by examining the K series grants over the same period that have focused on the kidney.

Methods

We mined NIH RePORTER for NIDDK-funded, kidney-focused RO1s and K series grants to determine the PI demographics, the terminal degree(s) of the PIs (physician versus non-physician) and to determine the relative number of clinical and basic science proposals. As an age-surrogate, we compared the year at which the respective RO1 PIs received either their M.D. (physicians) or their Ph.D. (non-physicians) degrees. Taking these values, along with published data as to the median age at which students received their M.D. or Ph.D. in the U.S. in both 2005 and 2020, we estimated the ages of the NIDDK RO1-funded physician and non-physician workforce doing kidney research in the U.S.

Results

Amongst grants focused on kidney, the apparent median age of non-physician, RO1-funded PIs was similar in 2005 and in 2020. However, the apparent median age of physician, RO1-funded PIs is approximately 6 years older in now in 2020 than that in 2005. While the number of basic science grants was similar for physician PIs in 2005 and 2020, the number of clinically-focused RO1s increased. The number of NIDDK K series-funded physicians peaked in 2010 and then declined. However, the percent of physician-scientist RO1s held by women has risen from 15% in 2005 to 25% in 2020, while physician-scientist K series awards held by women has risen from 35% to 48% over that time period.

Conclusion

The representation of women in the physician-scientist workforce doing kidney research has increased. However, this physician-scientist workforce is older and relatively fewer are engaged in basic science research.

Funding

  • NIDDK Support