Research Funding, Income, and Career Satisfaction Among Clinician-Scientists in Ophthalmology in the United States

Alexander M. Rusakevich, Nicholas J. Protopsaltis, Rajesh C. Rao, Daniel L. Chao, Glenn Yiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to characterize clinician-scientists in ophthalmology and identify factors associated with successful research funding, income, and career satisfaction. Design: Cross-sectional study. Methods: A survey was conducted of clinician-scientists in ophthalmology at US academic institutions between April 17, 2019, and May 19, 2019. Collected information including 1) demographic data; 2) amount, type, and source of startup funding; first extramural grant; and first R01-equivalent independent grant; 3) starting and current salaries; and 4) Likert-scale measurements of career satisfaction were analyzed using multivariate regression. Results: Ninety-eight clinician-scientists in ophthalmology were surveyed across different ages (mean: 48 ± 11 years), research categories, institutional types, geographic regions, and academic ranks. Median startup funding ranged from $50-99k, and median starting salaries ranged from $150-199k. A majority of investigators (67%) received their first extramural award from the National Eye Institute, mainly through K-award mechanisms (82%). The median time to receiving their first independent grant was 8 years, mainly through an R01 award (70%). Greater institutional startup support (P =.027) and earlier extramural grant success (P =.022) were associated with earlier independent funding. Male investigators (P =.001) and MD degreed participants (P =.008) were associated with higher current salaries but not starting salaries. Overall career satisfaction increased with career duration (P =.011) but not with earlier independent funding (P =.746) or higher income (P =.300). Conclusions: Success in research funding by clinician-scientists in ophthalmology may be linked to institutional support and earlier acquisition of extramural grants but does not impact academic salaries. Nevertheless, career satisfaction among clinician-scientists improves with time, which is not necessarily influenced by research or financial success.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-264
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Ophthalmology
StatePublished - Jul 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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