The Impact of Postdoctoral Fellowships on a Future Independent Career in Federally Funded Biomedical Research
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. We 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. Our 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.
This paper reports the results of research and analysis undertaken by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) staff, consultants, and contractors. We acknowledge generous support and feedback from Sherry Mills, Kay Lund, Lisa Evans, Henry Khachaturian, Ryan Pfirrmann-Powell, Walter T. Schaffer, Jennifer Sutton, and Ying Zeng within the NIH Division of Biomedical Research Workforce Programs, as well as participants from the 2015 Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) fall research conference, the 2016 Society for Government Economists (SGE) annual meeting, and seminar participants at Iowa State University. We appreciate the time and candor given to us by various NIH institute program officers and training directors who so graciously agreed to be interviewed in an effort to help us truly understand the NRSA funding process on the ground. We also give very special thanks to Pierre Azoulay, Hyungjo Hur, Ming Lei, Jon Lorsch, Julie Mason, Michael Spittel, and Jonathan Wiest for taking the time to provide critical feedback. This analysis began while Misty L. Heggeness and Frances Carter-Johnson were employed at the National Institutes of Health. Donna Ginther and Maria I. Larenas acknowledge financial support from NIH Division of Biomedical Research Workforce (DBRW) (Contract No. HHSN276201300089U) to NETE Solutions. Any errors in this paper are the sole responsibility of the authors. The views presented here do not necessarily reflect any official position of the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, U.S. Census Bureau, World Bank, or the University of Kansas. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
- The National Research Service Award program increased the number of postdoctoral researchers who subsequently received an NIH...