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April 2014

Independent Research by Early Investigators: An Underutilized Option

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina
JAMA Psychiatry. 2014;71(4):357-358. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.4370

I am a clinical investigator, a psychiatric epidemiologist who has spent a career collecting my own data with colleagues and analyzing those data. My colleagues and I have been awarded a series of large grants and contracts for these data collection efforts over decades, however, I believe I may be a dinosaur. Why? I have been fortunate enough to develop my own hypotheses that drive the studies on which I have worked, to select the instruments for obtaining data, and to be the “first at the trough” when we initiate data analysis. Conversely, few beginning clinical investigators will have such a privilege in the forseeable future. Despite clinicians’ excellent credentials and training in design and analysis, the funding for original large studies, either clinical or in the community, will be extremely sparse—even serendipitous. How can these early investigators survive a bleak funding environment in the future?

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