In Brief

At least 127 psychologists--and perhaps many more--are among the top 5 percent of National Institutes of Health grantees in the country, according to a team of economists studying the careers of these scientific superstars.

Pierre Azoulay, PhD, and Joshua Graff Zivin, PhD, of Columbia University, are tracking the careers of the 6,000 researchers who have received the most money in NIH grants over the past 30 years--those in the 95th percentile or higher. Azoulay and Graff Zivin want to examine the researchers' careers and their influence on colleagues and collaborators.

"We're interested in when in their careers people move and change institutions, and how that relates to the funding that they have," Azoulay explains. "Do they move early in their career? Does that correspond to research productivity and funding? And how does it depend on or affect their co-authors?"

Of the 6,421 scientists the researchers have identified, 127 are professors in university psychology departments. However, Azoulay says, psychologists present unique classification problems. Many are affiliated with psychiatry and neuroscience departments, and so aren't easily identifiable. A number of the 213 people the researchers have classified as neuroscientists and of the 405 people lumped under psychiatry may actually be psychologists as well.

The researchers have just finished collecting their data--culled from résumés, Internet searches and other sources--and plan to begin data analysis for future publication.

--L. Winerman

Top NIH grantees by field

DEPARTMENT                   FREQUENCY                   PERCENT                   CUMULATIVE

Biochemistry                      565                                10.95                          11.88

NEUROSCIENCE                  147                                2.85                            14.73

Pharmacology                    245                                4.75                            31.21

Internal medicine               1,099                             21.29                           57.92

Obstetrics/Gynecology        56                                 1.09                             61.98

PSYCHIATRY                      313                               6.06                              75.72

Dental sciences                  36                                 0.70                              88.74

PSYCHOLOGY                     92                                 1.78                              93.06

Biomedical engineering       33                                 0.64                              97.48

Source: Pierre Azoulay, PhD, and Joshua Graff Zivin, PhD, Columbia University