The number of women receiving awards for dermatology research from the National Institutes of Health declined significantly from 2009 to 2014, while the number of men getting such funding increased, according to a retrospective analysis published in JAMA Dermatology.

The number of female primary investigators for dermatology studies funded by the NIH dropped from 49 in 2009 to 43 in 2014. Over the same period, the number of men leading NIH-funded dermatology studies rose from 84 to 97, with the difference between the two trends showing statistical significance (P = .04), Dr. Michelle Y. Cheng and her associates reported (JAMA Dermatol. 2016 May 18. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.0271).

The most likely cause for “women’s less prominent role in the NIH funding arena” is lack of support from academic institutions, said Dr. Cheng of the University of California, Davis, and her associates. Since such awards have an important a role in career advancement, “if women in dermatology continue to lose their NIH-funded research, the current gender gap in leadership in academic dermatology is not likely to improve,” they added.

To conduct the analysis, the investigators determined the sexes of the primary investigators for all 1,292 dermatology studies funded by the NIH from 2009 to 2014, using institutions’ websites and faculty directories to obtain photographic evidence or identification through online biographies.