The Neurosurgery Research and Education Foundation (NREF) provides research support for in-training and early career neurosurgeon-scientists. To define the impact of this funding, the authors assessed the success of NREF awardees in obtaining subsequent National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding.
NREF in-training (Research Fellowship [RF] for residents) and early career awards/awardees (Van Wagenen Fellowship [VW] and Young Clinician Investigator [YCI] award for neurosurgery faculty) were analyzed. NIH funding was defined by individual awardees using the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting tool (1985–2014).
Between 1985 and 2014, 207 unique awardees were supported by 218 NREF awards ($9.84 million [M] in funding), including 117 RF ($6.02 M), 32 VW ($1.68 M), and 69 YCI ($2.65 M) awards. Subspecialty funding included neuro-oncology (79 awards; 36% of RF, VW, and YCI awards), functional (53 awards; 24%), vascular (37 awards; 17%), spine (22 awards; 10%), pediatrics (18 awards; 8%), trauma/critical care (5 awards; 2%), and peripheral nerve (4 awards; 2%). These awardees went on to receive $353.90 M in NIH funding that resulted in an overall NREF/NIH funding ratio of 36.0:1 (in dollars). YCI awardees most frequently obtained later NIH funding (65%; $287.27 M), followed by VW (56%; $41.10 M) and RF (31%; $106.59 M) awardees. YCI awardees had the highest NREF/NIH funding ratio (108.6:1), followed by VW (24.4:1) and RF (17.7:1) awardees. Subspecialty awardees who went on to obtain NIH funding included vascular (19 awardees; 51% of vascular NREF awards), neuro-oncology (40 awardees; 51%), pediatrics (9 awardees; 50%), functional (25 awardees; 47%), peripheral nerve (1 awardees; 25%), trauma/critical care (2 awardees; 20%), and spine (2 awardees; 9%) awardees. Subspecialty NREF/NIH funding ratios were 56.2:1 for vascular, 53.0:1 for neuro-oncology, 47.6:1 for pediatrics, 34.1:1 for functional, 22.2:1 for trauma/critical care, 9.5:1 for peripheral nerve, and 0.4:1 for spine. Individuals with 2 NREF awards achieved a higher NREF/NIH funding ratio (83.3:1) compared to those with 1 award (29.1:1).
In-training and early career NREF grant awardees are an excellent investment, as a significant portion of these awardees go on to obtain NIH funding. Moreover, there is a potent multiplicative impact of NREF funding converted to NIH funding that is related to award type and subspecialty.