Analysis of the 2017 American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) Research Portfolio

Publication Date


Journal Title

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys


© 2018 Elsevier Inc. Purpose: Research in radiation oncology (RO) is imperative to support the discovery of new uses of radiation and improvement of current approaches to radiation delivery and to foster the continued evolution of our field. Therefore, in 2016, the American Society of Radiation Oncology performed an evaluation of research grant funding for RO. Methods and Materials: Members of the Society of Chairs of Academic Radiation Oncology Programs (SCAROP) were asked about funded and unfunded grants that were submitted by their departments between the fiscal years 2014 and 2016. Grants were grouped according to broad categories defined by the 2017 American Society of Radiation Oncology Research Agenda. Additionally, active grants in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools database were collated using RO faculty names. Results: Overall, there were 816 funded (44%) and 1031 unfunded (56%) SCAROP-reported grants. Total grant funding was over $196 million. The US government funded the plurality (42.2%; 345 of 816) of grants compared with nonprofit and industry funders. Investigators from 10 institutions accounted for >75% of funded grants. Of the funded grants, 43.5% were categorized as “genomic influences and targeted therapies.” The proportion of funded to unfunded grants was highest within the category of “tumor microenvironment, normal tissue effects, and reducing toxicity” (53.4% funded). “New clinical trial design and big data” had the smallest share of SCAROP grant applications and the lowest percent funded (38.3% of grants). NIH grants to RO researchers in 2014 to 2016 accounted for $85 million in funding. From the 31 responding SCAROP institutions, there was a 28% average success rate for RO proposals submitted to the NIH during this period. Conclusions: Though RO researchers from responding institutions were relatively successful in obtaining funding, the overall amount awarded remains small. Continued advocacy on behalf of RO is needed, as well as investment to make research careers more attractive areas for emerging faculty.

Volume Number


Issue Number



297 - 304

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School of Medicine

Primary Department

Radiation Medicine





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