Purpose: Like many groups, the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation has a long-term interest in funding new investigators. This study documents the career outcomes related to scientific productivity, research support, and current faculty positions of new investigators funded by the Foundation.
Method: All successful applicants from 1983 to 1987 (n = 244) were compared with unsuccessful applicants from 1986 and 1987 (n = 195). Outcomes over a ten-year period were examined. Online databases were used to measure quantity and quality of scholarship, as well as federal grant awards. Institutional prestige was based on the 1982 and 1995 reports from the Conference Board of Associated Research Councils. A follow-up survey of successful applicants identified current employment and research activities.
Results: Successful and unsuccessful applicants did not differ significantly except that women were underrepresented among successful applicants. Applicants receiving funding were more productive in terms of the quantity and quality of publications as well as federal grant support. A greater proportion of successful applicants came from top-ranked institutions and at follow-up the proportion of successful applicants in top-ranked programs increased. At follow-up, most successful applicants had tenure-track appointments with significant time dedicated to research.
Conclusion: The findings document the Foundation's investment in new investigators to promote scholarly productivity and career development and validate the criteria and process used to select successful applicants. The award provides new investigators with control over resources to facilitate their research programs and enhances the confidence and recognition of recipients.