To increase the number of independent National Institutes of Health (NIH)–funded neurosurgeons and to enhance neurosurgery research, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) developed two national comprehensive programs (R25 [established 2009] for residents/fellows and K12  for early-career neurosurgical faculty) in consultation with neurosurgical leaders and academic departments to support in-training and early-career neurosurgeons. The authors assessed the effectiveness of these NINDS-initiated programs to increase the number of independent NIH-funded neurosurgeon-scientists and grow NIH neurosurgery research funding.
NIH funding data for faculty and clinical department funding were derived from the NIH, academic departments, and Blue Ridge Institute of Medical Research databases from 2006 to 2019.
Between 2009 and 2019, the NINDS R25 funded 87 neurosurgical residents. Fifty-three (61%) have completed the award and training, and 39 (74%) are in academic practice. Compared to neurosurgeons who did not receive R25 funding, R25 awardees were twice as successful (64% vs 31%) in obtaining K-series awards and received the K-series award in a significantly shorter period of time after training (25.2 ± 10.1 months vs 53.9 ± 23.0 months; p < 0.004). Between 2013 and 2019, the NINDS K12 has supported 19 neurosurgeons. Thirteen (68%) have finished their K12 support and all (100%) have applied for federal funding. Eleven (85%) have obtained major individual NIH grant support. Since the establishment of these two programs, the number of unique neurosurgeons supported by either individual (R01 or DP-series) or collaborative (U- or P-series) NIH grants increased from 36 to 82 (a 2.3-fold increase). Overall, NIH funding to clinical neurological surgery departments between 2006 and 2019 increased from $66.9 million to $157.3 million (a 2.2-fold increase).
Targeted research education and career development programs initiated by the NINDS led to a rapid and dramatic increase in the number of NIH-funded neurosurgeon-scientists and total NIH neurosurgery department funding.