Research Funding at Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine in the United States

Richard R. Suminski, PhD, MPH; Linda E. May, PhD; and V. James Guillory, DO, MPH
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: June 16, 2011

Accepted: June 7, 2012

Published: October 1, 2012

J Osteopath Med; 112(10): 665-672

Context: Research is a vital component of a college of osteopathic medicine (COM) portfolio. Previous studies have described research activity at COMs from 1989 through 2004 using data from surveys of COM administrators conducted by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM). However, these studies had limitations.

Objectives: To address the limitations of previous studies and to provide more depth of understanding regarding research activity at COMs by (1) documenting changes in research funding at COMs from 2004 to 2009 according to the funding agencies, principal investigators’ degrees, and areas of study after considering inflation and (2) examining predictors of research funding at COMs.

Methods: Information about 2004 and 2009 active research grants and contracts, research expenditures, and COM characteristics was obtained from AACOM databases. Descriptive statistics are presented for 20 COMs that completed the survey in both years. The 2004 dollar values were adjusted for the rate of inflation (13.57%). Bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to explore associations between school characteristics (eg, number of faculty), research expenditures, and research funding outcomes (total amount and number of awards) for all COMs completing the survey in 2009 (n=26).

Results: From 2004 to 2009, the total amount of awards increased from 115.2 million to 216.6 million, and the number of awards increased from 450 to 665. Funding rose substantially from foundations (336%), to PhD-DO principal investigators (909%), and for osteopathic manipulative medicine (60%). Total award amounts were positively associated with both research expenditures (P<.001) and the number of faculty (P<.001). Larger research expenditures also were related to securing a greater number of awards (P<.001).

Conclusions: Research activity at COMs continues to advance partly because of investments in research and faculty made by COMs.

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