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Disparities in 'Super NIH Investigators' Found in New Analysis

For a paper appearing in JAMA Network Open, a team from Yale School of Medicine and other centers examines the demographic features of researchers who secure several project grants from the US National Institutes of Health. Based on information collected between 1991 and 2020 for the NIH Information for Management, Planning, Analysis, and Coordination database, the investigators saw a steep rise in principal investigators who received at least three project grants over time. Even so, the available race, gender, and ethnicity data suggested that investigators who self-identified as female and/or Black were less likely to be among those multiple grant holders — dubbed "super NIH investigators" or super principal investigators — even after adjusting for education and career stage. "[W]e found a growing gap among NIH investigators that created a cohort of highly funded NIH investigators," they write, noting that "[a]s the NIH develops critical initiatives and reforms to promote equity among its investigators, consideration of the persistent gender and ethnic and racial gaps in this elite class and the influence they have is critical for meaningful reform."