I attended graduate school in Switzerland, where for engineering, it is not uncommon to have research projects that are funded, in part, by commercial companies. I'm not talking about consulting, but scientific research projects, more on the translational side, for which there is full academic freedom and that have scientific publications as primary output. I also received a conference travel grant from a company during my PhD (although my paper was critical of the performance of one of that company's products).

I am now a post-doc fellow in a reputable american* university and realized my mentioning of funding from companies stirs unease and awkwardness among my colleagues (I should mention that my field is somewhat related to medicine).

How would private funding look like on my CV when applying to an american academic position? Is it considered more prestigious to have received government/foundation funding? I'm looking for answers that are general or specific to health-related research.

*I use this term to describe the USA.

1 Answer 1


Speaking from epidemiology as a field, with some dabbling in clinical and translational research:

Commercially funded research should absolutely show up on your CV (it does on mine), and it probably won't hurt you, especially in the early stages of your career. There is however definitely more prestige behind having NIH/NSF etc. funding, or foundation funding - several departments I've talked to have all said they prefer to see that. NIH funding especially is something of the "brass ring". Commercial funding isn't bad per se, but a notably dependence on it might have people wondering what is it about your work that isn't passing muster in the traditionally peer-reviewed federal funding system.

There's also some uncomfortableness around conflict of interest - industry-funded science doesn't have the best track record in terms of creating unbiased medical research, but they're also the only people who fund some research, so it will depend very heavily on what specific area you're in. I've worked in some areas where it gives people an uncomfortableness, and in others where nearly everyone has industry funding of some sort.


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