An International Survey on Taking Up a Career in Cardiovascular Research: Opportunities and Biases toward Would-Be Physician-Scientists

PLoS One. 2015 Jul 17;10(7):e0131900. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0131900. eCollection 2015.


Background: Cardiovascular research is the main shaper of clinical evidence underpinning decision making, with its cyclic progression of junior researchers to mature faculty members. Despite efforts at improving cardiovascular research training, several unmet needs persist. We aimed to appraise current perceptions on cardiovascular research training with an international survey.

Methods and results: We administered a 20-closed-question survey to mentors and mentees belonging to different international institutions. A total of 247 (12%) surveys were available (out of 2,000 invitations). Overall, mentees and mentors were reasonably satisfied with the educational and research resources. Significant differences were found analyzing results according to gender, geographic area, training and full-time researcher status. Specifically, women proved significantly less satisfied than men, disclosed access to fewer resources and less support from mentors (all P<0.05). People working in institutions not located in North America or Northern/Central Europe were significantly less satisfied and disclosed much less support (both P<0.05). Those in training reported limited opportunities for collaboration (P = 0.009), and non-full-time researchers disclosed more limited access to tutors and formal grant writing training (both P<0.05).

Conclusions: Several potential biases appear to be present in the way training in cardiovascular research is provided worldwide, including one against women. If confirmed, these data require proactive measures to decrease discriminations and improve the cardiovascular research training quality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiology* / education
  • Career Choice*
  • Education, Medical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mentors
  • Physicians*
  • Research Personnel / education
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Workforce

Grant support

This study was supported by Sapienza University of Rome (year 2013, prot. C26H13X2NL) to Dr. Biondi-Zoccai and by MIUR-PRIN 2011 (Year 2012, prot. 2010RNXM9C_007) to Prof. Frati.