A decade of decline: Grant funding for researchers with disabilities 2008 to 2018

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Recent data highlights an imbalance in research grant success among groups underrepresented within the biomedical workforce, including racial/ethnic minorities and women. However, there is no data on grant success for researchers with disabilities. For these analyses, aggregate data on self-reported disability status for National Institute on Health (NIH) research grant applicants and awardees was obtained from 2008 to 2018, including disability category: mobility/orthopedic, hearing, visual disabilities, and other disabilities. The percentage of applications and awards, as well as grant success rates (% of applicants receiving awards), by Principal Investigators (PIs) disability status were calculated. Data was desegregated, and logistic models determined trend of applicants reporting disability over time. The percentage of NIH grant applicants with PIs reporting a disability significantly declined from 1.9% in 2008, to 1.2% in 2018 (p<0.001). Data on grant awardees was similar, 1.9% of awards in 2008, declining to 1.2% in 2018 (p<0.001) had PIs reporting a disability. Across all years, the percentage of applications and awards with PIs reporting visual disabilities was lower than the percentage reporting mobility/orthopedic, or hearing disabilities (16.5%, 34.2%, and 37.8% in 2008, respectively). Overall grant success rates differed by disability status (27.2% for those reporting disability vs 29.7% in those reporting no disability, p<0.001). The lowest overall grant success rate was among PIs reporting unknown disability status or who withheld this status (18.6%). These results underscore the underrepresentation of researchers with disabilities among grant applicants and awardees, and indicate lower grant success rates among PIs reporting disabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0228686
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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