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Are Race, Ethnicity, and Medical School Affiliation Associated With NIH R01 Type 1 Award Probability for Physician Investigators?

Ginther, Donna K. PhD; Haak, Laurel L. PhD; Schaffer, Walter T. PhD; Kington, Raynard MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31826d726b
Diversity and Inclusion in Academic Medicine

Purpose: To analyze the relationship among National Institutes of Health (NIH) R01 Type 1 applicant degree, institution type, and race/ethnicity, and application award probability.

Method: The authors used 2000–2006 data from the NIH IMPAC II grants database and other sources to determine which individual and institutional characteristics of applicants may affect the probability of applications being awarded funding. They used descriptive statistics and probit models to estimate correlations between race/ethnicity, degree (MD or PhD), and institution type (medical school or other institution), and application award probability, controlling for a large set of observable characteristics.

Results: Applications from medical schools were significantly more likely than those from other institutions to receive funding, as were applications from MDs versus PhDs. Overall, applications from blacks and Asians were less likely than those from whites to be awarded funding; however, among applications from MDs at medical schools, there was no difference in funding probability between whites and Asians, and the difference between blacks and whites decreased to 7.8%. The inclusion of human subjects significantly decreased the likelihood of receiving funding.

Conclusions: Compared with applications from whites, applications from blacks have a lower probability of being awarded R01 Type 1 funding, regardless of the investigator’s degree. However, funding probability is increased for applications with MD investigators and for those from medical schools. To some degree, these advantages combine so that applications from black MDs at medical schools have the smallest difference in funding probability compared with those from whites.

Dr. Ginther is professor, Department of Economics, and director, Center for Science, Technology & Economic Policy, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas.

Dr. Haak is chief science officer, Discovery Logic/Thomson Reuters, Rockville, Maryland.

Dr. Schaffer is senior scientific advisor for extramural research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

Dr. Kington was formerly deputy director, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, and is currently president, Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Ginther, Department of Economics, University of Kansas, 1460 Jayhawk Blvd., Lawrence, KS 66045; telephone: (785) 864-3251; fax: (785) 864-5270; e-mail:

© 2012 Association of American Medical Colleges