There are many markers of “success” in a research career, such as winning the Nobel Prize, but we most commonly use grants and research publications as indicators, perhaps with their quality measured by a citation bibliometrics.

When it comes to grants, NIH funding has long been taken as an essential marker of research success. For instance, academic promotion is often partly based on whether the faculty member has NIH funding. And on a larger scale, the amount of funding anesthesiology receives from the NIH compared to other medical specialties demonstrates collective achievement.

Although NIH funding is not the only indicator of a productive research career, in order to understand how we might improve anesthesiology’s performance in research, it is important now to consider that the NIH is experiencing tough times. Federal research and development investments have declined continuously since 2004 in both current and constant dollars. A December...

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