Scientific Inquiry Into Rhinosinusitis: Who is Receiving Funding From the National Institutes of Health?
Objectives/Hypothesis: To evaluate National Institutes of Health (NIH) support for rhinosinusitis research and characterize the proportion of funding awarded to otolaryngologists. Study Design: Analysis of the NIH RePORTER database. Methods: Specialty and terminal-degree of primary investigators (PIs) for 131 projects spanning 364 fiscal years (1989 to present) were determined. Awards for projects examining rhinosinusitis were organized by size, academic department, and PI scholarly impact (using h-indices). Analysis of geographic and temporal funding trends was performed and organized by PI specialty. Results: A total of 62.6% of projects were awarded to physicians, one-third of whom were otolaryngologists. Allergists/immunologists had greater median awards than otolaryngologist PIs (P = .02), and pediatric-trained PIs had a greater h-index than otolaryngologist PIs (P = .04). Although year-to-year fluctuation was noted, otolaryngologists have received approximately a quarter of total rhinosinusitis funding since 2000. PIs practicing in the south-Atlantic, east-north-central, and west-north-central states had the greatest funding totals, whereas otolaryngologists had a greater proportion of regional funding in the Pacific and east-south-central states than other regions. Conclusions: Inquiry into the mechanisms underlying rhinosinusitis and optimal therapeutic strategies represents an interdisciplinary venture. PIs in medicine and pediatric departments had greater funding for rhinosinusitis projects than individuals in otolaryngology departments, partly because of greater utilization of PhD faculty. Otolaryngology departments may consider increased recruitment of basic scientists interested in rhinosinusitis as a means to facilitate increased scholarship in this area. Encouraging pursuit of funding opportunities is critical for otolaryngologists, as well-funded practitioners may have greater opportunities to shape advances and serve as an advocate for their approaches.