Assessing Direction & Outcomes: Evaluating the New Investigator Awards

Alejandra C. Astorga, M.P.H., and Janna N. Cordeiro, M.P.H.

Results of a recent evaluations study revealed that CBCRP’s New Investigator Awards Program is recruiting and helping to retain talented investigators in the field of breast cancer research. CBCRP program evaluation staff interviewed 20 researchers who were new investigators during the program’s first five grant cycles (1995-1999) to assess the impact of the award. Recipients stated the award gave them the opportunity to develop their own research ideas and perform breast cancer research that they otherwise would have been unable to do. In fact, most respondents credited the award with specific career gains, including helping them to establish themselves as independent researchers, facilitating the transition into a faculty position or adjunct research position, allowing them to publish papers and obtain subsequent funding, and learning enough about breast cancer to pursue further research. Other findings:

  • Eighty-five percent of the respondents are still performing breast cancer research, with 69 percent reporting that they would not have stayed in the field had they not received the CBCRP New Investigator Award.
  • Sixty percent said that the award gave them the background and training they needed to stay in the field of breast cancer research, 60 percent believed it gave them the chance to write and publish papers, and 50 percent stated it provided the groundwork for the rest of their career.
  • Almost all award recipients felt the award influenced their career by providing them with the opportunity to develop their skills to become a better principal investigator, giving them independence as a researcher, and enabling recognition for their work.
  • Outcomes from the research conducted with CBCRP funds included 38 publications in peer reviewed journals, at least 1,234 citations in subsequent studies referring to the publications, 43 oral presentations, two patents, and three awards.

Gains reported from CBCRP New Investigators Awards

The New Investigator Awards are designed to provide support for less experienced investigators to develop independent careers in breast cancer research, which means that the researchers must establish themselves as principal investigators and obtain future funds to secure their careers. Many respondents stated that this award was the first grant where they had served as the principal investigator and that the results of the award did put them in a position to apply for future funds. Forty-five percent of respondents reported having obtained additional funds at least partially based on the data from their CBCRP New Investigator Award. The total amount leveraged for additional breast cancer research was $6,155,424, of which $878,452 was obtained through subsequent awards from the CBCRP.

To date, the CBCRP has invested $13,261,956 in New Investigator Awards totaling 11 percent of their total dollars invested in breast cancer research. This year, the award will provide a maximum of $300,000 per grant for up to three years.

For a copy of the full report, which contains the details of the new investigator evaluation study, please contact Janna Cordeiro, Coordinator of Special Projects, at (510) 987-9841 or via e-mail at janna.cordeiro@ucop.edu.

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