Gender Differences in Receipt of National Institutes of Health R01 Grants Among Junior Faculty at an Academic Medical Center: The Role of Connectivity, Rank, and Research Productivity

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2017 Oct;26(10):1086-1093. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2016.6102. Epub 2017 Aug 3.


Objective: To determine whether there were gender differences in likelihood of receiving a first National Institutes of Health (NIH) R01 award among 5445 instructors and assistant professors at Harvard Medical School (HMS).

Materials and methods: Data on R01 award principal investigators were obtained from NIH ExPORTER and linked with faculty data. Using Cox proportional hazard regression, we examined the association of gender with receipt of first R01 award between 2008 and 2015 accounting for demographics, research productivity metrics, and professional characteristics.

Results: Compared to males, females had fewer publications, lower h-index, smaller coauthor networks and were less likely to be assistant professors (p < 0.0001). Four hundred and thirteen of 5445 faculty (7.6%) received their first R01 award during the study period. There was no gender difference in receipt of R01 awards in age-adjusted (hazard ratio [HR]: 0.87, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.70-1.08) or multivariable-adjusted models (HR: 1.07, 95% CI: 0.86-1.34). Compared to white males, there was a nonsignificant 10%, 18%, and 30% lower rate of R01 receipt among white, Asian or Pacific Islander, and underrepresented minority females, respectively. These differences were eliminated in the multivariable-adjusted model. Network reach, age, HMS start year, h-index, academic rank, previous K award, terminal degree, and HMS training were all significant predictors of receiving an R01 award.

Conclusions: A relatively small proportion of HMS junior faculty obtained their first NIH R01 award during the study period. There was no significant gender difference in likelihood of award. However, we are unable to distinguish faculty that never applied from those who applied and were not successful.

Keywords: NIH grants; R01; gender.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Adult
  • Awards and Prizes
  • Biomedical Research* / economics
  • Faculty, Medical / economics*
  • Faculty, Medical / statistics & numerical data
  • Fellowships and Scholarships / economics*
  • Fellowships and Scholarships / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Financing, Government / economics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
  • Research Personnel
  • Research Support as Topic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Schools, Medical
  • Sex Factors
  • United States
  • Workforce