In Peru, the past three decades have witnessed impressive growth in biomedical research catalyzed from a single research university and its investigators who secured international partnerships and funding. We conducted a bibliometric analysis of publications by Peruvian authors to understand the roots of this growth and the spread of research networks within the country.
For 1997–2016, publications from Web of Science with at least one author affiliated with a Peruvian institution were examined by year, author affiliations, funding agencies, co-authorship linkages, and research topics.
From 1997–2016, the annual number of publications from Peru increased 9-fold from 75 to 672 totaling 6032. Of these, 56% of the articles had co-authors from the US, 13% from the UK, 12% from Brazil, and 10% from Spain. Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH) was clearly the lead research institution noted on one-third of publications. Of the 20 most published authors, 15 were Peruvians, 14 trained at some point at UPCH, and 13 received advanced training abroad. Plotting co-authorships documented the growth of institutional collaborations, the robust links between investigators and some lineages of mentorship.
This analysis suggests that international training of Peruvian physician-scientists who built and sustained longstanding international partnerships with funding accelerated quality research on diseases of local importance. The role of a single research university, UPCH, was critical to advance a culture of biomedical research. Increased funding from the Peruvian Government and its Council for Science, Technology and Innovation will be needed to sustain this growth in the future. Middle-income countries might consider the Peruvian experience where long-term research and training partnerships yielded impressive advances to address key health priorities of the country.
One measure of a country’s productivity in biomedical research is through an analysis of the publications in the peer reviewed literature. We have searched the Web of Science database of English language biomedical publications with a Peruvian author to examine the growth in the number of publications over the period 1997–2016, the most productive research institutions in the country, the distribution of foreign coauthors, and the diversity of topics of research. In the past 2 decades, the number of publications has increased 9-fold with the extensive engagement with foreign co-authors and funding, a growing diversity of topics expanding from infectious diseases to the NCDs, and with one third of all publications coming from a single research university. The early overseas training of a group of young Peruvian physician-scientists in the 1960s led them to establish a unique research university, Universidad Peruano Cayetano Heredia that seeded this new direction and engagement in research, and the seeding of researchers to other institutions in the country working on specific research challenges. The Peruvian experience provides a model for other countries seeking to expand their footprint in research while laying out the need for greater investment by the government to secure and expand these gains while retaining outstanding scientists who have been able to identify through research new ways to address the nation’s priority problems in health. The use of bibliometric analyses can provide important insights in the growth of biomedical research in a country providing policy makers with evidence for making decisions on the future funding of research.