The Troubling Decline of Physician Scientists in the U.S.
Created by lgreen on 12/19/2013 11:13:37 AM

By Allison Lea

Physician scientists play a critical role in biomedical research because of their unique potential to combine clinical perspectives with scientific insight. Recently, The FASEB Journal published an analysis with data on the declining participation of this population of the scientific community in biomedical research.

The analysis, “NIH research funding and early career physician scientists: continuing challenges in the 21st century,” cites several indicators of this decline. Using annual poll data from the American Medical Association, the authors found that the number of physicians reporting research as their primary profession has fallen by over 3,000 in the last 30 years. Additional data showed that the number of National Institutes of Health (NIH) post-doctoral training and career development grants awarded to physician scientists is at an all-time low.

“While increased NIH funding during the late 1990s and early 2000s halted the long-term decline in the number of physicians entering research careers, the current environment of reduced NIH funding has further eroded their participation,” stated study co-author, Howard H. Garrison, PhD. “If their participation continues to fall, we may lose opportunities to translate basic science discoveries into health care advances."