- The question when and to what extent academic research can benefit society is of great interest to policy-makers and the academic community. Physicians in university hospitals represent a highly relevant test-group for studying the link between research and practice because they engage in biomedical academic research while also providing medical care of measurable quality. Physicians’ research contribution to medical practice can be driven by either high-volume or high-quality research productivity, as often pursuing one productivity strategy excludes the other. To empirically examine the differential contribution to medical practice of the two strategies, we collected secondary data on departments across three specializations (Cardiology, Oncology and Orthopedics) in 50 U.S.-based university hospitals served by 4,330 physicians. Data on volume and quality of biomedical research at each department was correlated with publicly available ratings of departments’ quality of care, demonstrating that high-quality research has significantly greater contribution to quality of care than high-volume research.