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Contributions of International Medical Graduates to US Biomedical Research
  1. Hershel Alexander,
  2. Stephen J. Heinig,
  3. Di Fang,
  4. Howard Dickler,
  5. David Korn
  1. Association of American Medical Colleges.
  1. Data used in this study have been made available under National Institutes of Health Contract N01-OD-3-1015 with the Association of American Medical Colleges.
  2. Address correspondence to: Dr. David Korn, AAMC, 2450 N St, Washington, DC 20037; e-mail: dkorn{at}

The Experience of US Medical Schools


International medical graduates (IMGs) constitute an appreciable fraction of full-time faculty at US medical schools and of principal investigators (PIs) on National Institutes of Health (NIH) research project grants. Information from the Faculty Roster of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and from the NIH Consolidated Grant Applicant File (CGAF) was examined to assess IMGs' contribution to US medical school faculty and research. The study found that the number of IMG full-time faculty more than doubled over two decades-from 7,866 individuals in 1984 to 17,085 individuals in 2004, but that IMGs remained relatively stable as a share of physician full-time faculty (from 18.8 to 19.4%); the share is somewhat higher (20.0% of full-time physician faculty in 1984 to 23.7% in 2004) if faculty with degrees of unknown provenance are included. From 1984 to 2004, IMGs increased as a share of full-time physician faculty who are principal investigators on NIH research grants from 16.5% (540) to 21.3% (1,143). Including faculty with incomplete data on degree provenance, the corresponding IMG share increases to 18.0 and 24.0% respectively. Thus, IMGs comprise at least one-fifth and more likely one-fourth of all full-time faculty physicians who are PIs on NIH research project grants. The proportion of IMG full-time physician faculty who are in basic science departments is about twice that of their US/Canadian counterparts, as is the proportion of IMG physician PIs. Slightly fewer than half (48%) of full-time IMG faculty PIs pursue human subjects research (as coded by the NIH), while the majority of US/Canadian counterparts pursue human subjects research.

Key words
  • clinical and translational research
  • international medical graduates
  • research workforce
  • research policy

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