Emergency medicine faculty serving on standing NIH and AHRQ study sections from 2019 to 2020

Andrew B. Moore, Mike Puskarich, Jody A. Vogel, Jeremy Brown, Willard W. Sharp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Emergency medicine (EM) investigators lag in research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) when compared to other specialties. NIH funding determinations are made in part by a process of NIH study section peer review. Low participation by EM investigators in NIH peer review could be one explanation for low levels of NIH funding by EM investigators. The objective of this study was to establish a current-state metric of EM faculty researchers serving on standing NIH study sections from 2019 to 2020. Publicly available lists of NIH study section membership rosters within the Center for Scientific Review and within individual NIH institutions were reviewed for standing members. Committee members listed as being members of a department of emergency medicine were identified as emergency care researchers. Special emphasis panels and ad hoc members were excluded. Members degrees were categorized as PhD, MD (with or without non-PhD degree), MD/PhD, and other. Similar analysis was performed of AHRQ study sections. A total of 6,113 members on NIH study sections were identified. Degrees held by committee members included PhDs 74% (4,547), MDs 14%(883), MD/PhDs 10% (584), and other (99). Twenty (0.3%) NIH study section members were identified as members of an emergency department (ED). A total of 20% (four) held PhDs, 75% (15) held MDs, and 5%(one) held MD/PhD degrees. A total of 25% (five) of EM faculty were pediatric and 75% (15) were adult. Clustering of study sections within similar institutions was noted with 40% (two) of the pediatric faculty at the same institution while 27% (four) of the adult faculty were at the same institution. AHRQ study section review identified 3% (four/127) as members of an ED. Our data show that 20 EM faculty comprised 0.3% of NIH standing study section members and four EM faculty comprised 3% of AHRQ standing study section members from 2019 to 2020 and that these members were clustered at a few institutions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-122
Number of pages5
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number1
Early online dateJul 12 2021
StatePublished - Aug 2 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the largest funder of biomedical research in the world with a total of $17,309,297,458 funded toward medical research in 2020. Obtaining independent NIH funding by an investigator is considered essential for the establishment of an academic research program. Previous studies have shown that emergency medicine (EM) lags that of other medical specialties in applying for and obtaining NIH funding for research. In 2020, EM ranked 28th out of 45 medical specialties receiving NIH grant funding with total NIH funding of approximately $91 million annually, well below the mean of $348 million and median of $141 per annum. Funding of EM‐related research accounted for 0.53% of all NIH medical research funding. Between 2008 and 2017 NIH funding received by EM ranked lowest in support per active physician when compared to the medical specialties of Neurology, Family Medicine, Orthopedic Surgery, Pediatrics and Psychiatry. Federal funding of medical research by the NIH is determined through peer review performed by NIH study sections and low participation by EM investigators in this process could explain in‐part lower funding of EM investigators. This is relevant because emergency care research often performed by EM faculty is characterized by a focus on undifferentiated patients with time‐sensitive disease processes and the need to understand the heterogeneity of outcomes from these disease processes. These factors require expert evaluation that may or may not be present on study sections without EM representation. The objective of this study was to establish a current‐state metric of EM faculty researchers serving on standing NIH study sections and participating in NIH peer review from 2019 to 2020. 1 2,3 1 3 4–6

Funding Information:
The authors thank the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) Board of Directors for their support and guidance with this project and the overall advancement of academic emergency medicine.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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