OBJECTIVE The Neurosurgery Research and Education Foundation (NREF) provides diverse funding opportunities for in-training and early-career neurosurgeon-scientists. The authors analyzed the impact of NREF funding on the subsequent career success of neurosurgeons in obtaining research funding and academic achievements. METHODS The NREF database was queried to identify NREF winners from 2000 to 2015. The award recipients were surveyed to obtain information about their demographic characteristics, academic career, and research funding. Only subsequent research support with an annual funding amount of $50,000 or greater was included. The primary outcome was the NREF impact ratio, defined as the ratio between NREF award research dollars and subsequent grant funding dollars. The secondary outcomes were time to subsequent grant funding as principal investigator (PI), clinical practice settings, and final academic position achieved. RESULTS From 2000 to 2015, 158 neurosurgeons received 164 NREF awards totaling $8.3 million (M), with $1.7 M awarded to 46 Young Clinician Investigators (YCIs), $1.5 M to 18 Van Wagenen Fellows (VWFs), and $5.1 M to 100 resident Research Fellowship Grant (RFG) awardees. Of all awardees, 73% have current academic appointments, and the mean ± SD number of publications and H-index were 71 ± 82 and 20 ± 15, respectively. The overall response rate to our survey was 70%, and these respondents became the cohort for our analysis. In total, respondents cumulatively obtained $776 M in post–NREF award grant funding, with the most common sources of funding including the National Institutes of Health ($327 M) and foundational awards ($306 M). The NREF impact ratios for awardees were $1:$381 for YCI, $1:$113 for VWF, and $1:$41 for resident RFG. Awardees with NREF projects in functional neurosurgery, pediatric neurosurgery, and neuro-oncology had the highest NREF impact ratios of $1:$194, $1:$185, and $1:$162, respectively. Of respondents, 9% became department chairs, 26% became full professors, 82% received at least 1 subsequent research grant, and 66% served as PI on a subsequent research grant after receiving their NREF awards. CONCLUSIONS In-training and early-career neurosurgeons who were awarded NREF funding had significant success in acquiring subsequent grant support, research productivity, and achievements of academic rank. NREF grants provide a tremendous return on investment across various career stages and subspecialities. They also appeared to have a broader impact on trajectory of research and innovation within the field of neurosurgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-265
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of neurosurgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • AANS
  • NREF
  • academic neurosurgery
  • career outcomes
  • physician-scientist
  • research funding


Dive into the research topics of 'Impact of Neurosurgery Research and Education Foundation awards on subsequent grant funding and career outcomes of neurosurgeon-scientists'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this