For the further training of individuals in neurosurgery II: the academic legacy of the William P. Van Wagenen Fellowship

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OBJECTIVE

William P. Van Wagenen pursued a research fellowship in Europe early in his career under the recommendation of Harvey Cushing. Later, Van Wagenen would be instrumental in the establishment of the William P. Van Wagenen Fellowship, a postgraduate fellowship for neurosurgeons from the AANS that requires study outside of a fellow’s country of residency training with plans to return to academic practice.

METHODS

Since 1968, 54 Van Wagenen Fellowships have been awarded, sending 54 fellows from 31 institutions to 13 different countries. The academic productivity of fellows was studied to determine the academic “return on investment” of the fellowship.

RESULTS

Almost all fellows have spent some time in academic neurosurgery (94%), with the vast majority remaining in academics for their entire career (87%); 52% of fellows have received NIH funding, and 55% have been promoted to professor. The numbers are even more striking for the first half of Van Wagenen Fellows (who received the fellowship from its inception in 1968 to 1994) with at least 25 years of career development who remained in academics: 65% received NIH funding, 86% were promoted to professor, and 62% became chairs of academic departments. The Hirsch index of fellows, defined as h papers from an individual with at least h citations, is higher than the national mean and median values for academic neurosurgeons at every academic rank. Fellows have served on national committees and as AANS and CNS presidents and have given back financially to the Neurosurgery Research and Education Foundation (NREF) to fund future research activities of neurosurgical residents and young faculty.

CONCLUSIONS

The Van Wagenen Fellowship will continue to provide young neurosurgeons with opportunities to pursue novel research and network with peers internationally and to motivate young neurosurgeons to transform neurosurgery. The legacy of Cushing and Van Wagenen continues today through the Van Wagenen Fellowship, a legacy that will only continue to grow.

ABBREVIATIONS CV = curriculum vitae; h index = Hirsch index; NINDS R25 = National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Research Education Grant; NREF = Neurosurgery Research and Education Foundation; WOS = Web of Science.
Article Information

Contributor Notes

Correspondence D. Ryan Ormond: University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO. david.ormond@cuanschutz.edu.INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online November 29, 2019; DOI: 10.3171/2019.9.JNS191998.Disclosures The authors report no conflict of interest concerning the materials or methods used in this study or the findings specified in this paper.
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