Skip to main content


The Impact of Postdoctoral Fellowships on a Future Independent Career in Federally Funded Biomedical Research
Misty L. Heggeness, U.S. Census Bureau
Donna K. Ginther, University of Kansas and NBER
Maria Larenas, National Institute of Health
Frances D. Carter-Johnson, National Science Foundation

The Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) program is a major research training program administered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with funds appropriated each year by Congress. This study examines the impact of NRSA postdoctoral fellowships on subsequent research-related career outcomes using NIH administrative records on applicants who applied for a fellowship between 1996 and 2008. Ginther, Heggeness, Larenas, and Carter-Johnson find that postdoctoral fellowships increased the probability of receiving subsequent NIH research awards from 6.3 to 8.2 percentage points and of achieving an NIH-funded R01 award, an indication of an independent research career, from 4.6 to 6.1 percentage points. Their findings demonstrate that the NRSA postdoctoral fellowship awards have the potential to promote retention of scientists in NIH-funded research and in the biomedical workforce pipeline.

The Color of Money: Federal vs. Industry Funding of University Research
Tania Babina, Columbia University
Alex X. He, University of Maryland
Sabrina T. Howell, New York University and NBER
Elisabeth Ruth. Perlman, U.S. Census Bureau
Joseph Staudt, U.S. Census Bureau

U.S. universities have experienced a shift in research funding away from federal and towards private industry sources. This paper evaluates whether the source of funding - federal or private industry -is relevant for commercialization of research outputs. Babina, He, Howell, Perlman, and Staudt link person-level grant data from 22 universities to patent and career outcomes (including IRS W-2 records). To identify a causal effect, the researchers exploit individual-level variation in exposure to narrow federal R&D programs stemming from pre-existing field specialization. Babina, He, Howell, Perlman, and Staudt instrument for the researcher's funding sources with aggregate supply shocks to federal funding within these narrow fields. The results show that a higher share of federal funding reduces patenting and the chances of joining an incumbent firm, while increasing the chances of high-tech entrepreneurship and of remaining employed in academia. A decline in the federal share of funding is offset by an increase in the private share of funding, which has opposite effects. Babina, He, Howell, Perlman, and Staudt conclude that the incentives of private funders to appropriate research outputs have important implications for the trajectory of university researcher careers and intellectual property.


This paper was distributed as Working Paper 28160, where an updated version may be available.

Publish and Train or Perish? Valuing the Early Career Outcomes of STEM Ph.D. Recipients
Xuan Jiang, The Ohio State University
Joseph Staudt, U.S. Census Bureau

STEM laboratories and principal investigators (PIs) are usually evaluated by the quantity and quality of the publications they produce. In contrast, the training of Ph.D. students, though one of the most important “outcomes” of the research process, has received little attention from either an academic or policy perspective. In this paper, we develop and deploy novel data to identify both academic and industry job placements of recent Ph.D. recipients. We use these placements to quantify the training performance of labs and relate it to their research performance. In addition, we address disparities in both research and training performance by gender. Our findings highlight the importance of evaluating training performance alongside research performance when assessing the success of labs and PIs.



Arne Bakker, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
David Bogle, UCL
Johanna Brumberg, Wellcome Trust
Annamaria Carusi, Inter-Change Research
Stephanie D. Cheng, Harvard University
Rikke Nørding Christensen, Novo Nordisk Foundation
Anne-Marie Coriat, Wellcome Trust
Alberto Corsini, Maastricht University
Maria Dahlberg, National Academies
Catherine de Fontenay, Melbourne Business School
Bela Desai, India Alliance
Adam Falk, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Jaquelina Falkenheim, National Science Foundation
Henrik Barslund Fosse, Novo Nordisk Foundation
Alison Gammie, National Institute of General Medical Sciences
Jian Gao, Northwestern University
Kenneth Gibbs, National Institute of General Medical Sciences
Fiona Griffin, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Eva C. Guinan, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Laurel Haak, Mighty Red Barn
Chonnettia Jones, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research
Gigi Jones, National Science Foundation
Stijn Kelchtermans, KU Leuven
David Lang, Experiment Foundation
Julia Langton, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research
Marc Malandro, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Oscar A. Mendez, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Sofia Pastali, Maastricht University
Kelly Phou, National Science Foundation
Kelly Sheehan-Rooney, EMBO - Excellence in Life Sciences
Erik Snapp, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Charitini Stavropoulou, University of London
Bodo Stern, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Neil Thompson, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Josh Trapani, National Science Foundation
Inge van der Weijden, Leiden University
Carlos Zambrana, University of Kansas

More from NBER

In addition to working papers, the NBER disseminates affiliates’ latest findings through a range of free periodicals — the NBER Reporter, the NBER Digest, the Bulletin on Retirement and Disability, and the Bulletin on Health — as well as online conference reports, video lectures, and interviews.

Economics of Digitization Figure 1
  • Article
The NBER Economics of Digitization Project, established in 2010 with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, provides a forum for disseminating research...
  • Lecture
Claudia Goldin, the Henry Lee Professor of Economics at Harvard University and a past president of the American...
2020 Methods Lecture Promo Image
  • Lecture
The extent to which individual responses to household surveys are protected from discovery by outside parties depends...