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July 3, 2018

Preparing Physician-Scientists for an Evolving Research Ecosystem

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Weill Institute for Neurosciences, University of California, San Francisco
  • 2Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute, Seattle, Washington
  • 3Mindstrong Health Inc, Palo Alto, California
JAMA. 2018;320(1):31-32. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.4478

Physician-scientists, by combining their clinical experience with investigative skills, are uniquely poised to address critical issues in medical care and human health. However, the future of a robust physician-scientist workforce in the United States is uncertain.1 Multiple factors account for this long-standing issue, perhaps most prominently is limited federal biomedical research funding. Following strong growth of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget in the previous decade, from 2003 to 2015, the NIH’s research-funding capacity declined by 22%.2 Even though the 2019 federal budget proposal would increase the total NIH budget to approximately $34.8 billion, this increase will not likely compensate for the reduced funding rates for research project grants over the past 4 years.3

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