Research Funding at Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine: 15 Years of Growth

Michael B. Clearfield, DO; Peggy Smith-Barbaro, PhD; V. James Guillory, DO, MPH; Thomas A. Cavalieri, DO; Douglas L. Wood, DO, PhD; Glynda F. Sharp, MHA; and Marc B. Hahn, DO
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: June 12, 2006

Accepted: March 2, 2007

Published: November 1, 2007

J Osteopath Med; 107(11): 469-478

Context: Colleges of osteopathic medicine (COMs) trying to stimulate research and develop research infrastructures must overcome the challenge of obtaining adequate funding to support growing research interests. The authors examine changes in research funding at COMs during the past 15 years.

Objectives: To track 1999-2004 data on COM research funding, COM faculty size, educational backgrounds of principal investigators receiving funding, and funding institutions. To compare these data with published results from 1989 to 1999.

Methods: Data on number of grants, funding amounts by extramural source, percent of total dollars by extramural source, percent of total dollars by COM, and total amount of extramural funding were obtained from the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine databases. Data on the Osteopathic Research Center (ORC) were obtained from the ORC’s databases.

Results: Research, both in terms of number of grants and funding amounts within the osteopathic medical profession, increased substantially from 1999 to 2004. The largest single source of funding remained the National Institutes of Health. The number of COMs whose research funding exceeded $1 million annually more than doubled, increasing from 5 in 1999 to 12 in 2004. The osteopathic medical profession’s decision to direct research dollars into a national research center devoted to research specific to osteopathic manipulative medicine resulted in an almost eightfold return on initial investment in 4 years.

Conclusions: The amount of research productivity at a COM may be aligned with the size of the COM’s full-time faculty, suggesting that once “critical mass” for teaching, service, and administration are achieved, a productive research program can be realized. Expanding the evidence base for those aspects of medicine unique to the osteopathic medical profession is dependent on the future growth of research.

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