Developing research programs that align with the clinical mission

James F. George, Herbert Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Building a competitive research program within a department of surgery requires a significant commitment by the department and the institution to provide the necessary resources for faculty recruitment, retention of current faculty, and physical space/infrastructure to support research activities. We expanded the academic footprint of our department as demonstrated by the expansion of the department of surgery research funding by 13-fold over a period of 7 years, resulting in an increase in national ranking from 55th place to 10th place in the National Institutes of Health extramural funding. This required attention to multiple factors that affect the ability of faculty to establish and maintain competitive research programs. We executed a plan that established a leadership structure that coordinates resources and provides mentorship to faculty. The department invested heavily in the recruitment of new faculty, especially junior faculty, but also some mid-career and senior investigators to develop a critical mass in specific areas for competitive large grant and program project applications. The pipeline of new trainees interested in research was augmented by successful training grant applications that created a mechanism by which residents and fellows can pursue research for periods ranging from a few weeks to 2 years. Administrative infrastructure was created to assist faculty in grant submissions as well as post-award management. Finally, in partnership with institutional leadership, the department acquired the physical space necessary to support both dry-lab and wet-lab research activities. To achieve true excellence, an academic surgery department must maintain excellence in both the clinical and research areas, which, in the context of an academic medical center, are not separate goals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1244-1246
Number of pages3
JournalSurgery (United States)
Issue number4
StateAccepted/In press - 2023
Externally publishedYes


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