Medical Research: Sustainable Funding for Tomorrow's Cures

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A primary source of federal funding for tomorrow's cures comes from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). But during the past decade, the NIH budget has failed to keep pace with inflation, due to federal budget pressures.

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Medical research is funded by various entities, including the federal government, patient and disease groups, and industry. A primary source of federal funding for tomorrow’s cures comes from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). AAMC-member institutions conduct over 50 percent of the extramural research the NIH funds, which in turn creates hope for millions of Americans affected by serious diseases.

NIH-funded research has contributed to a 60 percent reduction in the death rates for coronary heart disease and stroke, a 40 percent decline in infant mortality over the past 20 years, and a 30 percent decrease in chronic disability among seniors.

In recent years, bipartisan support for medical research and the NIH has helped recapture lost ground, but continued support is needed to fully recover from more than a decade of underfunding. The AAMC and other science, research, and medical organizations have been advocating for increases in NIH funding to grow the U.S. research enterprise and maintain the country’s standing as the world leader in medical research and advancements.

Sustained, predictable growth in funding for NIH is vital to developing the cures and treatments many Americans need.

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where does medical research funding come from

Understanding Science

How science REALLY works...

  • Much scientific research is funded by government grants, private companies, and non-profit organizations.
  • Though funding sources may occasionally introduce bias to scientific research, science has safeguards in place to detect such biases.

Who pays for science?

Today, we all do. Most scientific research is funded by government grants (e.g., from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, etc.), companies doing research and development, and non-profit foundations (e.g., the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, etc.). As a society, we reap the rewards from this ​​ science  in the form of technological innovations and advanced knowledge, but we also help pay for it. You indirectly support science everyday through taxes you pay, products and services you purchase from companies, and donations you make to charities. Something as simple as buying a bottle of aspirin may help foot the bill for multiple sclerosis research.

Funding for science has changed with the times. Historically, science has been largely supported through private patronage (the backing of a prominent person or family), church sponsorship, or simply paying for the research yourself. Galileo’s work in the 16th and 17th centuries, for example, was supported mainly by wealthy individuals, including the Pope. Darwin’s  Beagle  voyage in the 19th century was, on the other hand, funded by the British government — the vessel was testing clocks and drawing maps for the navy — and his family’s private assets financed the rest of his scientific work. Today, researchers are likely to be funded by a mix of grants from various government ​​ agencies , institutions, and foundations. For example, a 2007 study of the movement of carbon in the ocean was funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Australian Cooperative Research Centre, and the Australian Antarctic Division. 1  Other research is funded by private companies — such as the pharmaceutical company that financed a recent study comparing different drugs administered after heart failure. 2  Such corporate sponsorship is widespread in some fields. Almost 75% of U.S. ​​ clinical trials  in medicine are paid for by private companies. 3  And, of course, some researchers today still fund small-scale studies out of their own pockets. Most of us can’t afford to do cyclotron research as a private hobby, but birdwatchers, scuba divers, rockhounds, and others can do real research on a limited budget.

An imperfect world

In a perfect world, money wouldn’t matter — all scientific studies (regardless of funding source) would be completely ​​ objective . But of course, in the real world, funding may introduce biases — for example, when the backer has a stake in the study’s outcome. A pharmaceutical company paying for a study of a new depression medication, for example, might influence the study’s design or interpretation in ways that subtly favor the drug that they’d like to market. There is ​​ evidence  that some biases like this do occur. Drug research sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry is more likely to end up favoring the drug under consideration than studies sponsored by government grants or charitable organizations. 4  Similarly, nutrition research sponsored by the food industry is more likely to end up favoring the food under consideration than independently funded research. 5

Take a sidetrip

Find out more about  the tobacco industry’s manipulation of scientific research .

So what should we make of all this? Should we ignore any research funded by companies or special interest groups? Certainly not. These groups provide invaluable funding for scientific research. Furthermore, science has many safeguards in place to catch instances of bias that affect research outcomes. Ultimately, misleading results will be corrected as science proceeds; however, this process takes time. Meanwhile, it pays to scrutinize studies funded by industry or special interest groups with extra care. So don’t, for example, brush off a study of cell phone safety just because it was funded by a cell phone manufacturer — but do ask some careful questions about the research before jumping on the bandwagon. Are the results consistent with other independently funded studies? Does the study seem fairly designed? What do other scientists have to say about this research? A little scrutiny can go a long way towards identifying bias associated with funding source.

1 Buesseler, K.O., C.H. Lamborg, P.W. Boyd, P.J. Lam, T.W. Trull, R.R. Bidigare, J.K.B. Bishop, K.L. Casciotti, F. Dehairs, M. Elskens, M. Honda, D.M. Karl, D.A. Siegel, M.W. Silver, D.K. Steinberg, J. Valdes, B. Van Mooy, and S. Wilson. 2007. Revisiting carbon flux through the ocean's twilight zone.  Science  316:567. 2 Mebazaa, A., M.S. Nieminen, M. Packer, A. Cohen-Solal, F.X. Kleber, S.J. Pocock, R. Thakkar, R.J. Padley, P. Poder, and M. Kivikko. 2007. Levosimendan vs dobutamine for patients with acute decompensated heart failure: The SURVIVE randomized trial.  Journal of the American Medical Association  297:1883-1891. 3 Bodenheimer, T. 2000. Uneasy alliance: Clinical investigators and the pharmaceutical industry.  New England Journal of Medicine  342:1539-1544. 4 Als-nielson, B., W. Chen, C. Gluud, and L.L. Kjaergard. 2003. Association of funding and conclusions in randomized drug trails: A reflection of treatment effect or adverse events?  Journal of the American Medical Association  290:921-928. 5 This research focused on studies of soft drinks, juice, and milk. Lesser, L.I., C.B. Ebbeling, M. Goozner, D. Wypij, and D.S. Ludwig. 2007. Relationship between funding source and conclusion among nutrition-related scientific articles.  Public Library of Science Medicine  4:41-46.

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where does medical research funding come from

Research Facts and Funding

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An Introduction to U.S. Federal Funding for Healthcare Innovation

An Introduction to Federal Funding for Innovation

September 8, 2021 – By Amrika Ramjewan, Principal Strategist – Mayo Clinic Innovation Exchange

Each year, U.S. government agencies with extramural research and development (R&D) budgets invest in federal funding programs designed to stimulate technological innovation and foster entrepreneurial activity. Coordinated by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), these federal funding programs are accessible via a competitive award process through major research agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Defense (DoD), and National Science Foundation (NSF).

Entrepreneurs seeking to advance research and bring their innovations to market have the opportunity to compete for these funds and access a wealth of support from these agencies. Through 2019, over 179,000 awards have been granted totaling over $54.3 billion in investment by the federal government.

Jon Zurn, director of the Strategic Funding Office for Research at Mayo Clinic , spoke with the Exchange’s members about the variety of federal funding options available, how the non-dilutive granting process works, and the resources available to entrepreneurs.

Q: Can you share an overview of the types of federal funding programs available to entrepreneurs?

JZ: The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) coordinates non-dilutive, research innovation funding programs to assist entrepreneurs and small businesses with planning and conducting R&D activities and advancing their products and technologies through validation and commercialization. Two types of grants are available including the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) award . These awards focus on R&D, stimulating technological innovation, and increasing private-sector commercialization of innovation derived from federal R&D funding.

SBIR funds are offered by 11 federal agencies and divisions within these agencies including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Defense (DoD), National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), among others. The funds are intended to assist small businesses with conducting principal investigator-led R&D on their own or with subcontractors, with the expectation that a majority of the work will be completed by the small business.

STTR funds are offered by five federal agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS, and its constituents NIH, FDA, CDC, and ACL). The funds are intended to facilitate collaboration and foster technology transfer between small businesses and non-profit research institutions. The government recognizes that small firms often don’t have the research resources and infrastructure to complete early-stage R&D, and that there is tremendous value in partnering with large, research-intensive institutions to bring innovations to market.

Both awards are non-dilutive sources of funding, meaning that the government takes no interest or equity stake in your business. Recipients of these funds are expected to fulfill the reporting requirements laid out by the awarding federal agency, and all intellectual property is owned by the small business (except in special circumstances).

Q: What can the funds from these programs be used for?

JZ: SBIR and STTR grants are intended for performing R&D. Purchasing equipment, commercializing a technology that has already been developed, or pursuing a low-risk idea that requires capital will typically not be funded by these programs. Before applying, it’s best to consult with an agency’s program officer to make sure your idea meets the R&D criteria.

Award solicitations for these grants, called an Omnibus or Parent Announcement, are published by the NIH three times each year — in January, April, and September. Each participating NIH institute and center (I/C) has its own research priorities. It is important to understand how these priorities align with your projects. Additionally, targeted solicitations for specific needs may also be published, but these are not released on a regular cycle. Other federal agencies tend to post opportunities throughout the year.

Funding for each award is focused on distinct phases. In Phase I, the objective is to establish technical merit, feasibility and commercial potential prior to seeking Phase II funding. Phase I SBIR/STTR awards normally do not exceed $150,000 in total over six months (for SBIR), or over one year (for STTR) — with some exceptions.

In Phase II, the funding is based on the results achieved in Phase I, with the possibility of funding through Phase IIB. Phase II awards normally provide up to $1,000,000 in total over two years. However, exemptions may even be granted for approved research areas that may extend the award ceiling up to $1.7 million for Phase II.

Phase III research on the path of commercialization is not funded by SBIR/STTR. However additional, late stage development federal dollars are available through programs such as the NIH’s Commercialization Readiness Pilot (CRP).

Q: Who is eligible for these funds?

JZ: Small, for-profit business organizations that are U.S. concerns, and operating primarily in the United States with a U.S.-based location are eligible to apply for SBIR and STTR dollars. The small business, including its affiliates, must have no more than 500 employees, and must be more than 50% directly owned and operated by one or more individuals who are citizens or legal permanent residents of the United States. Small businesses that are subsidiaries of larger companies are not eligible.

However, if a small business is majority-owned by multiple venture capital operating companies (VCOCs), hedge funds, or private equity firms that each meet small business size criteria, it is eligible to apply for an NIH SBIR funding opportunity. These grants are also not designated for large institutions, universities, or non-profit organizations.

Foreign (non-U.S.-based) firms may access SBIR and STTR dollars through two avenues — either as a subcontractor to a U.S.-based firm, or by having a U.S. location where the work for which the funds being sought will be completed. That is, all grant dollars must be spent in the U.S. For example, if a foreign firm owned by a U.S. legal permanent resident were to receive a three-year grant for $100,000, all of the funds must be spent in the U.S. to complete the research.

For SBIR grants, subcontracting is limited to 33% of the total effort in Phase I of the project, and 50% of the total effort in Phase II. Also, the principal investigator (PI) leading the research must be employed by the small business seeking the funds. This means that the PI will be unable to work elsewhere during the project period, as more than 50% of their time must be spent in service to the small business.

For STTR grants, 40% of the work must be completed by the small business, and 30% by the collaborating research institution (RI). The remaining 30% may be completed by the small business, or outsourced to either the RI or another subcontractor. The PI may be primarily employed by either the small business or the RI. Co-investigators may be affiliated with either the small business, or the RI, or they may serve as consultants — however, this is dependent on any restrictions that may be set by the funder.

Any organization located in the U.S. that is a university, non-profit institution, or contractor-operated federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) is eligible to collaborate with small firms on STTR projects.

Q: What resources are available to entrepreneurs and small businesses interested in seeking funding through these programs?

JZ: There are a tremendous number of online resources , tutorials , as well as local SBA affiliates in every state. Many agencies provide applicant assistance programs for businesses interested in applying for SBIR and STTR grants, and technical support staff provide good, free advice — remember, they are there to help.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) publishes sample applications , as well as many useful templates for preparing proposals. Agencies such as the NIH and NSF offer Innovation Corps (I-Corps™) programs, which offer more in-depth support, including funding, mentoring, and networking opportunities on a team’s journey towards commercialization.

The realm of finding funding and development opportunities can seem complicated, but once you’re in it, the ecosystem is quite exciting, with many resources available to help you navigate.

Q: What breakthrough innovations in healthcare delivery or technology excite you most?

JZ: Artificial intelligence (AI) is already a burgeoning field and seems to be growing daily. It’s being applied in nearly every corner of biomedical research and healthcare, from mechanistic studies to improving staffing workflows. It’s also ripe for multidisciplinary collaboration, including small businesses with specialized skills or AI technologies.

Federal agencies are increasing their AI investments, including a plan to stand up an entirely new $6.5 billion office at NIH, the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) . The goal is to build high-risk, high-reward capabilities (or platforms) to drive biomedical breakthroughs. This includes achieving viable products and market feasibility. Undoubtedly, small businesses will be welcome in this new arena.

I’m excited, too, about microbiome research, which is an interest area to not just the NIH, but 15 other federal agencies as well. The biome is another new frontier in medicine that we’re now learning plays a role in numerous diseases. Like AI, we’re finding application of microbiome research in a wide span of applications, including unlocking molecular secrets, developing biomarkers, creating therapeutics, and improving lifestyles.

This is such an exciting time to be involved in medical research.

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How Is Science Funded In The United States?

Related articles.

where does medical research funding come from

Scientific research is not cheap. Conducting experiments requires people, reagents, technology and a lot of very expensive equipment.

The funding for science can come from two sources, private funds (from companies and foundations) or public funds, which can come from a number of different government agencies. 

In general, companies focus on specific goals, such as drug design or vaccine development, for specific diseases. Therefore, deciding which projects get funded is typically not determined by the people running the experiments in the private sector (there are exceptions to this, of course.) 

In the arena of public funding - the source of financial resources for the majority of academic science - the system works very differently. Because there are more ideas than there is available money, scientists vie for it in an incredibly competitive - even cutthroat - process. For example, for the past few years, the "funding line" - the percentage of grants funded - has been around 10%, with variations depending on the area of research and whether the grant was a first time submission or renewal. That may sound reasonable to outsiders, but, when your research, career and paycheck depend on a one in ten chance, the life of an academic scientist becomes a stressful one.

Grants given by the government are the lifeline of academic researchers. Without money to fund your research, an institution is unlikely to keep you on their faculty. This is largely because a portion of the funds from the government go directly to the school. These 'indirect costs', which range from 50% - 75% of the total grant get split between the university, the dean and the departments. They pay only for the 'support of research' which generally means keeping the building maintained.  That is lights, natural gas lines, and management of the facilities - not people, equipment, or supplies. 

The process begins with the submission of a grant to a governmental agency, usually either the National Institute of Health (NIH) or the National Science Foundation (NSF.) The NIH budget for 2016 was $31.3 billion - by far the largest source of funding for academic research in the United States. 

The traditional NIH grant that funds a laboratory and its research is called The Research Project Grant , or RO1. The scientist requesting the grant is the Principal Investigator (PI) and serves as the head of the lab. RO1 grants, which can be submitted three times annually, are the bread and butter of academic science funding and almost a requirement to keep a lab up and running. 

Included in the RO1 grant submission are descriptions of what the scientist would like to do and how they are going to do it, including specific plans and any preliminary data that supports the project. A budget is included with any expenses over $250K requiring a justification. The PI's try to convey, among other attributes, how innovative their work is and are likely to include a link to a human disease, even in the areas of the most basic research. 

The grant is submitted to the NIH where it will be reviewed by a group of scientists with only the top ten percent receiving funding. 

This article is part one in a two part series on how science in funded in the United States. Please tune in to part two entitled "How One In Ten Grants Gets Funded - The Review Process" to be published later this week. 

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where does medical research funding come from

By Julianna LeMieux

Senior Fellow in Molecular Biology

Dr. Julianna LeMieux received her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Microbiology from Tufts University School of Medicine where she studied the pathogenic bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae. She followed that with a post-doc at MIT, working on the nematode C. elegans. After teaching as an assistant professor for four years, she realized her passion for science communication and left her faculty position to join the team at the American Council on Science and Health in April 2016. She also served as a faculty member in the Citizen Science program at Bard College for two years, and stays on in a training role and as part of a working group.

She enjoys writing about a myriad of different topics, but is especially interested in infectious diseases, global health and vaccines. She lives in NYC with her husband and three children and loves exploring the city with them. She can be reached at [email protected] or @julemieux1

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Can the Source of Funding for Medical Research Affect the Results?

  • By Jalees Rehman  on  September 23, 2012

Many clinical research studies are funded by pharmaceutical companies and there is a general perception that such industry-based funding could potentially skew the results in favor of a new medication or device. The rationale underlying this perception regarding the influence of industry funding is fairly straightforward. Pharmaceutical companies or device manufacturers need to increase the sales of newly developed drugs or devices in order to generate adequate profits. It would be in their best interest to support research that favors their corporate goals. Even though this rationale makes intuitive sense, it does not necessarily prove that industry-funding does influence the results of trials. However, there is also data to support the fact that the funding source does seem to correlate with the outcomes of clinical trials.

One such study was conducted by Paul Ridker and Jose Torres and published in 2006 in JAMA ( Journal of the American Medical Association ). Ridker and Torres analyzed randomized cardiovascular trials published in leading, peer-reviewed medical journals ( JAMA, The Lancet, and the New England Journal of Medicine ) during the five year period of 2000-2005 in which one treatment strategy was directly compared to a competing treatment. They found that 67.2% of studies funded exclusively by for-profit organizations favored the newer treatment, whereas only 49.0% of studies funded by non-profit organizations (such as non-profit foundations and state or federal government agencies) showed results in favor of the newer treatment. This contrast was even more pronounced for pharmaceutical drugs, where 65.5% of the industry sponsored studies showed benefits of the newer treatment, while only 39.5% of non-profit funded studies favored the new treatment.

One argument that is repeatedly mentioned in defense of the high prevalence of positive findings in industry-funded studies is the publication bias of journals. The concern refers to the fact that editors and peer reviewers of journals may give preference to articles that show positive findings with new therapies. However, the analysis by Ridker and Torres demonstrated that these journals did publish a substantial number of “negative studies”, in which the new therapy was not superior to the established standard of care.

Studies such as the one by Ridker and Torres, the recognition that pharmaceutical companies provide various kinds of incentives for physicians to promote newer therapies and the realization that industry sponsors may perform selective analyses of clinical trial data to potentially exaggerate benefits of certain drugs have all contributed to the perception that industry funding could skew the results in favor of a drug or device made by the sponsor.

This is precisely the reason why most leading medical journals now require an exact description of the funding sources and any potential financial interests that the authors of a research article may have. The disclosures are usually described in depth towards the end of the full-length article, but some journals even indicate funding sources in the brief abstract of an article. This allows the readership of the published articles to consider the funding source and potential financial interests of the authors when evaluating the results and conclusions of a clinical trial.

How this information about the funding sources impacts the perception of physicians in regards to the validity of the data in a research study has not been thoroughly investigated. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine by the Harvard Medical School researcher Aaron Kesselheim and his colleagues may help us address this question. Kesselheim et al identified 503 physicians who were internists certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine. These internists were sent abstracts of research studies describing the results obtained with three hypothetical drugs: lampytinib to lower cholesterol, bondaglutaraz to improve glucose control and lipid metabolism and provasinab to limit the progression of coronary artery blockages.

Of note, the physicians did not all receive the same three abstracts, but various permutations of the abstracts. In some abstracts, the described studies had high methodological rigor, whereas other physicians reviewed abstracts with lower methodological rigor. The physicians were informed that these were hypothetical drugs, and that the physicians should assume the drugs had been approved by the FDA, the drugs were eligible for insurance coverage and that the studies were published in reputable medical journals. They were then asked to assess the studies based on the abstracts they reviewed using a scale of 1 to 7. For example, in the case of lampytinib, they had to respond to the following questions or instructions:

How likely would you be to prescribe lampytinib?

How confident are you in the validity of the conclusion that the authors draw about lampytinib in this abstract?

Rate the overall rigor of the study methodology:

Rate the importance of the study:

Are you interested in reading the full article for the study described in this abstract?

Here is an example of the "Methods" section from the abstract of a hypothetical study with the imaginary LDL-cholesterol lowering drug lampytinib that was shown to some of the participating physicians:

METHODS We conducted a randomized, double-blind, active-comparator controlled trial in 12 centers across the US to assess the efficacy and safety profile of lampytinib in patients who had coronary heart disease (CHD) or at least 3 major risk factors for CHD. Eligible patients could not tolerate any statin, had an LDL cholesterol >160 mg/dL, and an HDL cholesterol <40 mg/dL. Patients were assigned to receive 10 mg of lampytinib or 10 mg of ezetimibe (Zetia) daily for 36 months. The primary end point was a combined cardiovascular disease endpoint (cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction, or stroke). We also assessed change from baseline in LDL and HDL cholesterol at 24 weeks, and the safety and side-effect profile of lampytinib.

The reasons why this study would be considered to have high methodological rigor include that it was randomized and double-blind, that was conducted in multiple centers, that there is clearly defined treatment group (10 mg lampytinib) and a control group (10 mg of ezetimibe) and that there are "hard" endpoints, such as cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction and stroke as well as the cholesterol levels.

Here is a different version of this abstract with less methodological rigor that was presented to another subset of physicians:

METHODS We conducted a randomized, open-label controlled trial to assess the utility of lampytinib in men with a history of familial hypercholesterolemia and no other medical problems. Eligible patients could not tolerate any statin, had an LDL cholesterol >160 mg/dL, and had an HDL cholesterol <40 mg/dL. Patients were assigned to receive 10 mg of lampytinib or usual care for 4 months. The primary end points were the change from baseline in LDL and HDL cholesterol.

The reasons why this version should be considered "low rigor" include the fact that it was open-label, that there was just comparison to "usual care" instead of a defined control intervention group and that the end-points only included changes in cholesterol levels but no "hard" end-points, such as myocardial infarction or death.

In addition to varying the methodological rigor of the described studies (high, intermediate or low methodological rigor), Kesselheim et al. also varied the description of the funding source. At the end of each abstract there was either 1) no mention of the funding source, 2) a statement that the study was funded by the federal government’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) or 3) that it was funded by the industry. The industry funding disclosure was as follows:

This study was funded by a grant from [company]. The lead author reports serving as a consultant to [company].

Using these combinations, Kesselheim et al. generated 9 abstract versions for each hypothetical drug: 3 (levels of methodological rigor) x 3 (types of funding disclosure). Each participating physician was randomly assigned to receive one of the nine abstract versions for each hypothetical drug. This would permit the determination whether the disclosure statement would have an impact on the physicians’ perceptions of the strength of a study. Of the surveyed physicians, 269 physicians responded. Kesselheim et al evaluated the scores the respondents gave and converted the responses on the 1-7 scale into an odds ratio (OR) using a statistical model, which basically indicates the likelihood of physicians to determine the likelihood of assigning a higher score to the abstracts.

The results of the study are quite encouraging and indicate that the participating physicians appropriately recognized the methodological rigor of the various abstracts. Physicians were nearly 8 times more likely to assign a higher rigor score when they evaluated abstracts with high methodological strength, when compared to physicians who received abstracts with low methodological strength! They were also 5-6 times more likely to assign higher confidence scores and were nearly 5 times more likely to assign higher scores for prescribing the drug in question, when compared to the physicians who received abstracts with low methodological rigor. The second key finding was that the source of funding did have a significant impact on the physicians’ willingness to assign higher scores. Physicians who read abstracts that indicated NIH funding were roughly twice as likely to assign higher scores in terms of a study’s rigor, confidence in the study results and willingness to prescribe the hypothetical drug, when compared to physicians who read abstracts that indicated the study was funded by the industry.

This means that the primary determinant of the physicians’ decision to assign high scores was the methodological strength of the study, but that the type of funding did also factor into the willingness of the physicians to have confidence in the study results, albeit to a lesser degree. I find this quite reassuring, because it means that the participating physicians did not ignore the funding disclosure. The reasons for this are probably due to the above-mentioned perception that industry sponsorship could potentially bias the results and this is discussed in detail by Kesselheim et al.

However, in addition to this perception, there may be an additional reason for why the NIH-sponsored studies were assigned substantially higher scores. As most researchers know, budget constraints at the NIH have resulted in very low funding rates for grant proposals. In many grant review panels of the NIH, only the top 10% of grant proposals are funded. For a study to qualify for NIH grant funding, it has to go through a very thorough and arduous review process. In some ways, therefore, NIH funding can also be seen as a “badge of excellence”. It is quite possible that the physicians who reviewed the hypothetical abstracts may have been reassured by the indication of NIH funding, because it implied that the study must have passed a bar of scientific excellence to even achieve the NIH funding in the first place.

A second reason why the abstracts with industry-sponsorship may not have achieved as high scores as the ones with NIH sponsorship is that the disclosure statement also included the by-line “The lead author reports serving as a consultant to [company]. ” Since most consultants receive an honorarium, it indicates a potential financial incentive for the author to promote a drug manufactured by a sponsor that pays the honorarium. Hopefully, most clinical researchers will be aware of their potential bias and financial conflict of interest, but it is not unreasonable for the reader of a research abstract to be somewhat concerned about a bias, if the reader finds out that the study author has such a conflict of interest. The question that remains unanswered is how much this information about industry sponsorship and financial conflicts of interest should impact the confidence of the reader. Since the influence of industry sponsorship is so hard to gauge and objectively quantify, there may be no good answer for how to factor in the funding source.

One has to also remember that the situation in the study by Kesselheim et al was highly artificial. The participating physicians knew that these were hypothetical drugs and they were asked to comment on the rigor of a study and their willingness to prescribe a drug, merely based on reading a short abstract. Most physicians that I work with would not change their clinical practice based on a short abstract. Instead, they would want to read the full article, derive more detailed information about the study design, perhaps read some accompanying commentaries and critiques of the article in question and discuss the findings with their colleagues before they would feel comfortable to pass judgment on the rigor of a study and importance of a study. In spite of the limitations of the artificial situation created by sending out brief abstracts of hypothetical drugs in the study by Kesselheim et al, it is still a very important and valuable study that confirms the ability of internists in the US to discern high methodological rigor from weak methodological rigor and that it indicates that practicing internists do consider the funding source when evaluating clinical research studies.

The study of Kesselheim et al was accompanied by an editorial written by Jeffrey Drazen , the editor-in-chief of New England Journal of Medicine.

The title of the editorial “ Believe the Data ” already gives away the core message:

A trial’s validity should ride on the study design, the quality of data-accrual and analytic processes, and the fairness of results reporting. Ideally, these factors — not the funding source — should be the criteria for deciding the clinical utility.

The editor suggests that the funding source should not factor into the evaluation of the clinical relevance and significance of studies. This view from the editor of one of the leading medical journals comes as somewhat of a surprise, because it implies that one should ignore the possibility of hidden biases. Why then, do reputable medical journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine publish details about financial disclosures and conflicts of interest for all their articles, if the readers of the articles are supposed to ignore the funding source when evaluating the articles?

The editor also writes:

Is this lack of trust justified? The argument in favor of its justification — that is, the pharmaceutical industry has a financial stake in the outcome, whereas the NIH does not — supports the conclusion that reports from industry-sponsored studies are less believable than reports from NIH-sponsored ones. This reasoning has been reinforced by substantial press coverage of a few examples of industry misuse of publications, involving misrepresentation of the design or findings of clinical trials.

The editorial in part implies that our concerns about industry bias may be overblown due to “substantial press coverage”, but it does not mention the scientific research that has repeatedly pointed out the potential for bias in industry-sponsored research, such as the article by Ridker and Torres as well as numerous other studies that have documented the bias.

Ben Goldacre, the British physician who wrote the insightful best-selling book “ Bad Science ” in which he debunked pseudo-scientific claims, has now written a new book entitled “ Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients ” on how the pharmaceutical industry can manipulate clinical trials and the data derived from it. This book is scheduled to be released in the US in January of 2013, but an extract of the book was pre-published in The Guardian . In this excerpt, Goldacre gives multiple specific examples of how industry funding can affect the published data and how the pharmaceutical industry maligns researchers who point out that pharmaceutical industry sponsors can interfere with how clinical data is analyzed and published.

This influence of the pharmaceutical industry on clinical research is very pervasive and well-documented. it is not just “press coverage” hype, but the editor of New England Journal of Medicine seems to gloss over this interference by pharmaceutical companies. Instead of discussing the bias that industry-funding can introduce into clinical research, Dr. Drazen points out that research funded by the government is also not immune to bias:

However, investigators in NIH-sponsored studies also have substantial incentives, including academic promotion and recognition, to try to ensure that their studies change practice.

Nobody would deny that NIH-sponsored studies can also have incentives, such as academic promotion and recognition. However, the concern about industry-sponsored research is that clinical researchers who serve as consultants for pharmaceutical companies may have additional financial incentives. Lead authors of most major industry sponsored trials are usually academics who want to be promoted and recognized (just like the NIH funded researchers), but in addition to these academic incentives, they receive personal monetary compensation and grants from pharmaceutical sponsors. If a study shows that a new drug is superior, there is a significant likelihood that the sponsor might continue to give additional funding support for further research, whereas a negative study result can sometimes even shut down future research support by the sponsor because of the loss of profit.

The editorial ends with the comments:

Patients who put themselves at risk to provide these data earn our respect for their participation; we owe them the courtesy of believing the data produced from their efforts and acting on the findings so as to benefit other patients.

This again seems like a call to set aside concerns about bias in industry sponsored research, because it would be unfair to the patients who participated in trials. However, the data by Kesselheim et al showed that the internists did not disregard research sponsored by the industry. They primarily assessed the value of a study by its methodological rigor, but they also considered the funding source. Dr. Drazen is correct in pointing out that one should respect the patients who participated in the trials, and not ignore the data that they helped generate.

However, one also needs to respect the safety and health of patients who may be inappropriately prescribed new treatments based on studies that could be potentially skewed by financial biases of the sponsor and the authors. The safeguards that are now required for publishing clinical trials, such as registering all trials at the onset of the trial and ensuring safe and complete reporting are definitely a step in the right direction and will help improve the rigor of clinical trials, independent of the funding source. On the other hand, one should still not ignore the possibility of hidden biases that can evade such monitoring. Combining a rigorous analysis of methods of clinical studies with a careful evaluation of potential financial biases is probably the most appropriate way to assess clinical research studies.

Images: LadyofProcrastination and Zzubnik on Wikimedia Commons.

The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.



Jalees Rehman, MD is a German scientist and physician. He is currently an Associate Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a member of the University of Illinois Cancer Center. His laboratory studies the biology of cardiovascular stem and progenitor cells, with a focus on how cell metabolism may direct the differentiation and self-renewal of regenerative cells. He can be followed on Twitter: @jalees_rehman and contacted via email: jalees.rehman[at] He has a blog about stem cell biology at Scilogs called The Next Regeneration . Some of his other articles related to literature or philosophy can be found on his personal blog Fragments of Truth .  Follow Jalees Rehman on Twitter

Recent Articles by Jalees Rehman

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UW Department of Medicine climbs to 12th in the nation for NIH funding

Research signage

The Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research (BRIMR) has listed the University of Wisconsin Department of Medicine as 12th in the nation for departments of internal medicine receiving research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2023, up from 25th in 2022.

Blue Ridge Rankings

Among the research funded in the last fiscal year is the Clarity in Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Research Through Imaging (CLARiTI) study . At $150 million, the five-year CLARiTI study grant is the largest award from the NIH in the history of UW–Madison.

All data are derived from NIH year-end composite data for the federal fiscal year ending September 30, 2023, as released on the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tool.

View the full BRIMR rankings of NIH funding here.

where does medical research funding come from

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What Scientists Should Know About Research Funding

Michele Mei

Michele Mei Jun 29, 2019 3:57:40 PM

Michele Mei

It’s no secret that scientific research is becoming less of a priority to the federal government. For two decades, research and development (R&D) funding has remained stagnant or dropping, despite increases to the overall federal budget. With a growing population of scientists entering the field, a lack of funding generates a hyper-competitive and stressful funding climate. For those looking to secure funding for the first time, or simply curious about how science is funded, this post serves as an introductory guide.

Who Funds Science?

Where does the money go.

  • Science in 2019 (Trump's Budget Proposal)
  • Finding Grants for Your Research

Research and development funding in the U.S. typically comes from four main entities: the government, industry (private, for profit companies) and, to a lesser extent, higher education and non-profit organizations. Previously, the majority of science funding came from the federal government, but those days are long gone. For better or worse, industry now greatly supersedes the government in scientific funding, particularly in areas like applied research and development. According to the latest data from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), industry contributed three times as much as the government ($354,693 million vs. 116,300 million) to R&D in 2015.

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Industry vs. Federal Funding (a tangent)

Industry’s growing presence in research and development raises concerns about the impartiality of study outcomes. For example, in industry-funded clinical trials, there is evidence of biased reporting , such as higher reports of positive or favorable results. However, given  lack of federal funding, it is not a simple decision to turn down industry support. It bears repeating that industry commitment is now, by far, the leading contributor to scientific research in the U.S.  An article in The Conversation explores the debate over whether there should be industry involvement in science.

“On the face of it, partnerships between academia and industry in the production of knowledge are both sensible and critical. Given sluggish economic growth and the prevalence of societal problems that require technological solutions, one might argue that universities should be extensively engaged in contributing to innovation and less concerned with research lacking an apparent connection to real-world impact.”

– The Conversation   

Funding largely comes from industry and the federal government, but where exactly does that money go? According to 2016 data from the latest AAAS report , 63% of all R&D funding went to experimental development , which is work that draws on research and practical experience, but is directed towards producing and improving products. Applied research, with practical objectives, received 20% of R&D funding, while basic research, carried out for pure knowledge and understanding of fundamental science, received 17%. In the chart below, you can explore the amount of money in current millions that was allocated to each sector by the four main funding entities.

Science in 2019: Trump's Budget Proposal  

In 2018, less than 3% of the entire federal budget was spent on research and development. Despite Congress’ intervention which rejected Trump’s original budget cuts (such as the 17% cut to basic research), the final number is still disconcertingly low.

The 2019 fiscal year is now right around the corner and with it is the POTUS' new budget proposal. Aside from a 1.8% increase for development, the new proposal once again requests budget cuts to applied and basic research. Currently, the proposal requests a 8.1% cut to basic research and a 16.2% cut to applied research. You can access the complete, detailed breakdown of 2019's R&D funding proposal .

Finding Grants For Your Research

For those entering the field (i.e. graduate students, post-doctorates, and assistant professors), navigating the grant application process is undoubtedly daunting, especially because there are so many federal agencies, each with their own funding schemes and deadlines. Finding suitable grants to apply to can be a beast in and of itself. Where does one begin? Below, we rounded up the best, free-to-use websites to find funding opportunities.

  • – Perhaps the most encompassing of the sites on this list, allows users to search for grant opportunities from the most important R&D federal funding agencies in the U.S.
  • CRDF Global – CRDF Global is unique on this list because it is an independent, nonprofit organization. Its grants are available to scientists and innovators in over 40 countries . However, it is particularly focused on scientific collaborations and projects aimed at solving global issues, such as global health; nuclear, biological and chemical security, and water, food, energy nexus.
  • NSF – The National Science Foundation offers a variety of grants throughout the entire year. The NSF funds approximately 24% of federally supported basic research. In 2017, the majority of NSF’s funding (78%) supported research in colleges, universities, and academic consortia.
  • NIH – If your work is in the realm of biomedical research, you probably already know of the National Institute of Health. Their website allows you to search for any of their grants, which typically fall into one of 11 categories . New scientists should definitely make a note of NIH’s grants geared for “ early science investigators ” (ESI) or “new investigators.” You can also indicate your ESI status on the NIH’s oldest and most commonly used grant program, the R01 .

Conclusions and further thoughts

Securing government grants has become an incredibly and increasingly difficult process for scientists. Understanding how funding works in the current climate is an important foundation for scientists just entering the field. As funding stagnates, it is also important to think about how increasing pressure to produce "useful" data and "impactful" studies may lead to problems such as   biased funding , questionable   authorship   p ractices, and   reproducibility  crises. 

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Tags: Lab Life , What's Hot , Science Funding , Grant Applications , Budget Proposal

Michele Mei

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Medical School moves up 4 spots in NIH funding

Blue Ridge Rankings for NIH Funding

McGovern Medical School’s NIH funding ranks as 53 among all medical schools in the nation.

McGovern Medical School has increased its National Institutes of Health funding, as evidenced by the latest Blue Ridge rankings – moving up to 53 from 57 the prior year.

An independent, nonprofit organization, the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research ranks medical schools and their departments by dollar amount funded by the NIH.

Sixteen of the Medical School’s 23 departments are included in the FY23 rankings, with five departments in the top 20 among their peers. These departments, and their rankings, are Anesthesiology , 12; Biochemistry , 17; Integrative Biology and Pharmacology (listed as Physiology by Blue Ridge), 14; Neurology , 17; and Neurosurgery , 4.

The Vivian L. Smith Department of Neurosurgery’s ranking of 4 is the highest ranking among any McGovern Medical School Departments since FY16.

“The NIH funding increases we see across McGovern Medical School departments are a direct result of the incredible work by our faculty and research staff,” said Executive Dean John Hancock, MA, MB, BChir, PhD, ScD . “Our research of today translates to the health of tomorrow.”

The overall ranking for McGovern Medical School is 53 out of 144 medical schools. The school is listed with $112,322,968 in NIH awards, and $82,705,623 in indirect costs for FY23.

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Who Picks Up the Tab for Science?

For half a century, the government funded research. Times are changing.

Series making research work, part one of a four-part series.

At universities across the United States, cuts in federal research funding are threatening to slow the pace of scientific progress. A recent Pew survey highlights a disturbing disconnect: while a majority of Americans support federally funded research, many also distrust science—especially when it comes to subjects like climate change. Scientists say that much of the public—and many politicians—do not have a general understanding of the scientific process, knowledge critical for smart decision-making in our increasingly technological society.

BU Today begins a four-part series delving into what many consider a serious crisis affecting the future of medical, technological, and scientific development. In part one, we look at the history of funding, and at current efforts to keep the money coming. Part two shows how research can be misinterpreted; part three investigates how one lab has forged a new model for success; and part four examines the crisis of jobless postdocs and how a novel BU program is helping to reengineer their biomedical careers.

F inding the money for scientific research used to be a lot more straightforward: people got it from people they knew. In the 1870s, when Alexander Graham Bell needed money to develop his “harmonic telegraph,” he got much of it from the wealthy father of one of his students, 16-year-old Mabel Hubbard. Bell and Hubbard would eventually marry. Bell, who was at the time a professor of vocal physiology and elocution at Boston University’s School of Oratory, even borrowed money from his (famous) assistant, Thomas Watson.

Throughout the ages, science has moved forward with boosts from many well-heeled patrons, from monarchs to millionaires. Galileo’s heretical revelation that the Earth revolved around the sun would have been unlikely if not for his education at the University of Pisa, which was founded by Pope Clement VI, remembered even today as a devoted patron of the arts and learning. Four centuries after Clement, German universities adopted the notion that it was the academy’s responsibility to advance the understanding of science, a conviction that we take for granted today. We also think that the government should pay for university research—and it does pay for the vast majority of it. But since government funding flatlined several years ago, scientists at BU and universities across the country are worried, very worried, not just about their research, but about the future of science in America.

“The situation is serious,” says Gerald Denis, a School of Medicine associate professor of pharmacology and medicine in the Cancer Research Center and a fellow of the Obesity Society. “The last few years of funding uncertainties have been deadly, and several investigators I know have lost their jobs because grants were terminated. Cancer cohorts have been lost, long-term studies decimated. Who will be around to make the next set of American medical discoveries and advances? This is no way to maintain international scientific leadership.”


$140 Billion

The federal government pays almost $140 billion a year for research and development, down from $160 Billion in 2010

According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the federal government pays almost $140 billion a year for research and development, down from a 2010 peak of about $160 billion, in constant dollars. (In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [ARRA] added another $20 billion to the budget, for a total of about $180 billion for R&D.) Since the 2010 apex, cuts to discretionary spending have clipped R&D funds by 15.4 percent in inflation-adjusted spending, although nondefense R&D has declined only 4.9 percent.

According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Congressional cuts, along with the across-the-board reductions known as sequestration, from 2010 to 2013 resulted in the largest overall decrease in a three-year period since the end of the space race. Seen from a longer perspective, federal spending on R&D as a share of the gross domestic product has been in a long, slow slide from the 1970s, when it peaked above 2 percent. The AAAS puts the fiscal year 2014 figure at 0.78 percent.

Richard Myers, a MED professor of neurology and the author of more than 250 papers, says his funding “came to a screeching halt” in 2008. On those rare occasions when he is funded, he says, the money is likely to be reduced year after year until he ends up with just over half of what he requested. “I know what good science is,” says Myers. “And that compromises the science.”

Gloria Waters, vice president and associate provost for research, says finding funding sources other than the federal government has become “a top priority” of the University. Last spring, Waters’ office launched a series of workshops designed to help researchers with such things as Humanities Proposal Writing and Working with Federal Agencies. Every one, she says, was “extremely-well attended,” so well-attended that her office recently ramped up the program to include eight events per semester.

At BU, whose researchers study an enormous range of subjects, from the birth of frogs to the birth of planets , about 80 percent of the roughly $350 million for sponsored research received in FY 2014 (down from a 2010 peak of $407 million) came directly from the federal government, and another 10 percent originated in government grants and came to BU through other institutions, such as Harvard or MIT. About 45 percent of that money went to researchers at MED, where, according to Karen Antman, MED dean and Medical Campus provost, funding anxiety is at an all-time high. Antman says grants to the Medical Campus dropped $30 million in 2013 because of sequestration, although the money bounced back in 2014 when sequestration was put on hold. “These types of fluxes in research budgets produce a lot stress for faculty,” she says.

Some observers of the funding dilemma take a more sanguine approach. One Washington insider, an expert on US research funding and a BU alum, who requested anonymity because of his position, says that “research and development funding generally does pretty well in the government’s budget process,” because the government branches agree it’s important to stay competitive in science and technology. But looming over every budget decision, this expert says, is a broader debate about what the size of the government should be and how the government should spend its limited research budget.

bar chart showing Boston University Sponsored Programs Awards between fiscal years 1971-2014

In other words, some legislators wonder why the government should pay for so much university research. Waters offers some good reasons. She points out that the other likely source of research funding—industry—prefers to direct its money to projects that affect the bottom line. “Industry is focused on applied research that will result in the development of products with immediate commercial application,” she says. “But fundamental or basic research is needed in order to create the knowledge base that leads to more applied research. For example, in the area of medicine, specific treatments for many diseases cannot be developed until we know much more about the basic cellular and molecular changes involved in the development of the disease. Social science research has also played an extremely important role in addressing national security challenges. In a similar vein, scholarship in the humanities is critical to creating a broadly educated workforce and our ability to engage with other areas of the world.”

The AAAS has the data to support Waters’ concern about corporate research: 80 cents of every dollar that industry spends on R&D goes to development, and only 20 cents goes to basic and applied research, a ratio that is the polar opposite of that found in civilian science agencies.

Another argument for federal funding is the economic and cultural phenomenon known as Google, which was founded by two Stanford PhD students who were supported by a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Fellowship. In 2013, in what could be called the trickle-up effect of federal funding, Google spent more than $8 billion on its own research projects, which include electric cars and balloon-distributed Wi-Fi. Another argument: the internet itself, without which there would be no Google, was developed with funds from the Department of Defense’s DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), and the NSF, and it was based on research conducted at MIT, UCLA, and other academic laboratories.

The government steps up

Before World War II, government money for research was rare, and was mostly aimed at aeronautics and agriculture studies. So where did the money for basic science come from back then? As MIT historian and physicist David Kaiser wrote in Nature , science and technology research at American universities was historically funded by local industry, philanthropy, and universities themselves. That model leaped toward industry in 1919, when MIT created a division of industrial cooperation and research, essentially inviting corporations to pay for academic research. A decade later, according to Kaiser, more than a third of MIT faculty were working for corporate sponsors. All was good until the stock market crashed, taking with it 60 percent of the budgets for some departments. The crash also stanched the flow of funding from foundations. Homer Alfred Neal, Tobin Smith, and Jennifer McCormick, authors of Beyond Sputnik: US Science Policy in the 21st Century , write that in 1931, total grants from American foundations amounted to $52.5 million. Three years later the figure was $34 million, and the devastation was lasting: as late as 1940 it was $10 million less than it had been in 1931.


of federal R&D money goes to universities

Three-Way Split

According to the National Science Foundation, 29 percent of federal R&D money goes to universities, 29 percent goes to industry, and another 29 percent goes to researchers who work directly for federal agencies. About 10 percent goes to federally funded labs operated by private contractors.

In 1940, prewar concerns spurred President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to invent a new model of federal funding for science research and development—quickly. He created the National Defense Research Committee, which evolved into the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD), a well-funded octopus whose projects would soon include wartime research on a variety of topics, from radar to malaria, as well as the Manhattan Project, code name for the World War II research and development project that produced the atomic bomb.

At BU, the first meaningful chunk of federal money for sponsored research, $160,000, arrived in 1946, when the Army moved an aerial reconnaissance lens-making operation from Harvard to what is now 111 Cummington Mall. The optics lab, known first as the BU Optical Laboratory and later as the BU Physical Research Laboratory, was headed by Duncan MacDonald (CAS’40, GRS’41,’44, Hon.’69). It employed more than 100 people, who developed distortion-free aerial cameras that were the eyes of U2 spy planes. In 1957, when MacDonald left BU to help found the Itek Corporation, he suggested that his new company take over the administration of the BU lab, but ethical concerns got in the way. Worried about a clash between the University’s Christian pacifist tradition and classified military research, BU President Harold Case (STH’27, Hon.’67) turned down the collaboration. Itek later bought the lab, which was run for many years by BU veterans.

In Washington, the wartime scramble to meet military needs was carved into policy when Roosevelt placed OSRD under the chairmanship of Vannevar Bush, a former MIT vice president and dean and president of the Carnegie Institute. Asked to design an apparatus that could fund science in the postwar years, Bush penned the historic report “Science: the endless frontier.” He is now regarded as the architect of all government funding for university research.


In 1950, President Harry Truman created the National Science Foundation, charging it with developing a national policy for the promotion of basic research. For the next five and a half decades, the federal funding tap flowed with gradually increasing velocity, with a few marked leaps that coincided with perceived threats to the national security or economic angst. In 1957, for example, the year before the USSR launched Sputnik, the NSF budget was $40 million. In 1959, it was $134 million, and by 1968, Cold War concerns had shot it up to nearly $500 million. Other bursts attended the gas crisis of the 1970s, President Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” Strategic Defense Initiative in 1983, a continuing concern about the health of baby boomers in the 1990s, and the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 2001. (Money from that expansion helped pay for the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories [NEIDL] on the Medical Campus.)

Who are the favorite children of federal funders? It depends on when you ask. From 1970 to 2012, spending in constant dollars on the social sciences remained essentially flat (and relatively minuscule), while money for the environmental sciences, other life sciences, and physical sciences increased slightly. The big winners since 1990 have been math and computer science, whose budgets have more than doubled, and engineering, which almost doubled. National Institutes of Health (NIH) biomedical science funding leaped from less than $10 billion in 1990 to about $30 billion in 2008, before dipping nearly $5 billion by last year.

Alternate funding: what alternate funding?

By 2006, the expansion of federal funding began to sputter, and the long-upward trend entered a faltering pattern of hops and dips, peaking, in constant dollars, in 2010. In July 2012, in an effort to raise BU’s profile in the capital, the University opened a Washington-based Office of Federal Relations , and hired Jennifer Grodsky, who had previously been executive director of federal relations for the University of Southern California, to run it. Grodsky says the office “reads the tea leaves” about federal research priorities, to help faculty better respond to—and shape the direction of—funding opportunities.



BU received $350,345,941 for sponsored research in FY 2014

Where the Money Goes at BU

In FY 2014, BU received $350,345,941 for sponsored research, with 44.6 percent of that ($156,087,093) going to the School of Medicine, a typical percentage for universities with medical schools and teaching hospitals. Other big winners were the College of Arts & Sciences, with 18 percent of the money, the School of Public Health, with 14.5 percent, and the College of Engineering, with 13.5 percent.

While some fields of study do make out better than others, pain from the stalled funding has been generally distributed across disciplines and across the country, and in August 2013, BU President Robert A. Brown joined 186 leaders of other member universities of the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities in signing a letter calling on Congress and the president to “reject unsound budget cuts and recommit to strong and sustained investments in research and education.” The letter, sent jointly by the two associations, warned that without continued investment, US science and technology development could be outpaced by nations like China and Singapore.

Today, in the wake of sequestration and a great ideological divide in Congress, researchers have little reason to hope that federal spending will rise. And they don’t.

“I think it will be flat or go down,” says Ben Wolozin, a MED professor of pharmacology, who runs the Laboratory of Neurodegeneration . “I don’t think funding will improve during my career.”

Wolozin worries that the diminished funding will not affect just immediate projects, but will have a long-term impact on the number of people entering the field. And, he says, the roots of the cost-cutting sentiment extend far beyond Congress. “The average American citizen who doesn’t do science believes that the NIH is not there to support scientists,” he says. “They think it’s there to solve problems and cure diseases, and you can argue that a competitive system is the best way to ensure that you have a good product.”

Alice Cronin-Golomb, a CAS professor of psychological and brain sciences and director of the Vision and Cognition Laboratory and the Center for Clinical Biopsychology, blames the current distress on a “one-time bubble” that arose several years ago in the NIH budget. “That brought more people into the system who were funded, but without sustaining that expansion in subsequent years.” Cronin-Golomb says she is now “casting a much wider net for myself and for my graduate students.

“We are applying for funding from sources we would not have thought of before,” she says. “But so far this has not been very successful—because everyone is doing it. I know many colleagues across the United States who are in the same position. I feel sorry for junior investigators who can’t launch their programs, but also for senior investigators, because the senior ones not only conduct valuable research, but also train the next generation of graduate students and postdocs, providing their stipends from the research grants. Where will we be without that generation in a few years?”

Across the Charles River at Harvard, university data show a clear shift toward corporate and foundation funding. There, 75 percent of research is paid for by the government, corporate research funding has tripled, to $41 million, from 2006 to 2013, and foundation support has increased 50 percent, to $115 million. Harvard is now helping researchers set up meetings with big donors.


BU may soon follow suit. Waters and University Provost Jean Morrison are in the process of convening a task force of faculty, Waters says, “to address the questions of what our goals and mission should be with respect to collaboration with industry and what the optimal organization, structure, and staffing model for meeting these goals is.” Currently, she says, “there are many different offices that deal with industry, and we are looking to see if we could be organized in ways that open up new research directions and educational and career development opportunities and establish new sources of sustainable funding.”

Matt Hourihan, director of the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program, says the notion that corporate and foundation sponsors are waiting in the wings is a comforting one, but his association’s research has found no evidence that it’s true. So far, says Hourihan, the biggest increases have come from university coffers. “Industry contributions haven’t increased appreciably, and I’m not sure we have a clear enough picture on the philanthropic front yet.”

The experience of MED’s Myers can provide an outline of that picture. As a member of the scientific advisory board of the American Parkinson Disease Association since 1995, he has been vetting grant requests to the association for many years. “These days,” he says, “the number of applications is two to three times what it used to be, and the people who are applying are more senior. The number of people applying has gone up and the number of people we can fund has gone down.”

Myers’ effort to fund a recent project involving proteomics and RNA sequencing led him to team up with a corporate partner, Proteostasis Therapeutics of Cambridge, Mass., and he was pleased with the outcome. “We worked on it collaboratively,” Myers says. “We shared data. I think everybody is looking for a way to continue good science, and I think there is a growing appreciation that the private sector and academia could work together more than we have in the past.”

That bit of good news may hearten some researchers, but the big picture is far from rosy. From his perspective in Washington, D.C., Hourihan says, he sees continued tightening of the discretionary budget and continued growth in federal entitlement programs competing for funds with research.

“Assuming that we continue with business as usual, there’s very little chance we’ll see any kind of significant increases in the science budget beyond the relatively modest gains of the last couple of years,” he says. “If you want to increase science funding, then you’ve got to figure out where and how to decrease spending elsewhere, and that path gets you to tough choices very quickly.”

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Art Jahnke began his career at the Real Paper , a Boston area alternative weekly. He has worked as a writer and editor at Boston Magazine , web editorial director at CXO Media, and executive editor in Marketing & Communications at Boston University, where his work was honored with many awards. Profile

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There are 7 comments on Who Picks Up the Tab for Science?

Excellent article but there is no mention of the role of the University to help with the shortfall. As most researchers have to pay all or most of the salary from grants and a significant number are over the NIH cap, the University has a responsibility that they have not met in cost sharing. Also there is a significant number of researchers at the Med Campus who are BU faculty but whose grants go through Boston Medical Center which are not captured in this article and they have unique issues and problems.

What a terrible case of motivated cognition this article represents. As self seeking University Presidents and researchers ignore the problems in research and want taxpayers to pay for their low yielding sloppy research- much of which the public cant afford to read and profit from As Ioannidis indicated last year. Another observer spoke of the “entrenched sloppiness” in medical research. In a GAO report done last year it was found there is little correlation between spending at NIH and disease burden. Researchers are a narcisstic and priveleged group who believe society should serve them- and they dont seem to mind their research is sloppy and low yielding- and as a recent IOM report- on poorer health and shorter lives- researchers arent improving our health or lengthening our lives

David, if you are going to start from the point that 85% of research is bogus and researchers are sloppy freeloaders it is not even worth arguing with you as it is so far from the truth, also when you commoditize lives saved like you want to it is just a specious argument. If you just look at new cancer treatments, immunotherapies, vaccines etc. all developed from government funding, and their effect, the money spent is well worth it. Every time a kid gets a HiB vaccine and doesn’t get neonatal meningitis, thank government funding for developing it. 20,000 lives a year are saved. I am afraid to ask you about climate change!

Lee, You are a prime example of the ongoing dogma mentality that has poisoned real scientific thought, research and discussion. The fact that the extremely flawed concept (mythology) of Germ ‘Theory’ is corporately protected and propagated to the the detriment of humanity is evident by your support for failed cancer ‘treatments’, toxic vaccines, etc. The fact that there is absolutely zero evidence that any ‘virus’ has every been purified and adhered to the gold standard of Koch’s Postulates (or even the weaker modification of Koch’s Postulates by Thomas Rivers) is an indictment of the whole medical science for-profit industry. David’s comment, “Researchers are a narcisstic and priveleged group who believe society should serve them- and they dont seem to mind their research is sloppy and low yielding- and as a recent IOM report- on poorer health and shorter lives- researchers arent improving our health or lengthening our lives” is truly profound and though it is a blanket statement, I support his position!

Excellent article, great use of facts. I learned a lot

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Hi William, This article was published on April 6, 2015.

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USF research expenditures up 14%, surging to more than $461 million

  • February 13, 2024

Research and Innovation

By Tina Meketa , University Communications and Marketing

From advancements in health care to cybersecurity to K-12 education, the University of South Florida’s research enterprise continues to achieve tremendous growth.

USF’s research spending rose 14% in fiscal year 2023 to more than $461 million. Spending on awards funded by federal agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense, increased to nearly 53% of USF’s total, up from 46% five years ago. 

Two researchers in lab

Shiva Swamynathan and Yiquin Du, USF Health Morsani College of Medicine [Photo by Allison Long, USF Health]

“Our growing research enterprise allows the University of South Florida to make an even greater impact in solving challenges, improving lives and creating a healthier future for the Tampa Bay region, state of Florida and beyond,” USF President Rhea Law said. “This significant year-over-year increase in research activity is a testament to our world-class faculty who continue to be at the forefront of new discoveries and innovations.”

USF’s position as one of the nation’s most research-intensive institutions was a significant factor in its invitation to join the prestigious Association of American Universities in 2023.  

“The remarkable increase in our research expenditures is a powerful indicator of the University of South Florida’s rapidly expanding research enterprise,” said Sylvia Wilson Thomas, USF vice president for research & innovation. “Driven by national and international grand challenges, USF researchers pursue critical knowledge that translates into real-world solutions.”

Students in cybersecurity classroom

[Photo by Torie Doll, University Communications and Marketing]

The increase is reflected in USF’s response to the National Science Foundation’s annual Higher Education Research and Development Survey, which serves as the primary source of information about the amount of research conducted by U.S. colleges and universities. While the NSF does not release a list of how universities compare until later in the year, based on last year’s rankings, $461 million would have placed USF No. 2 in Florida and No. 41 nationally among public universities.

Compared to last year, USF’s expenditures nearly doubled in computer and information sciences from $9.5 million to $18.8 million, largely driven by burgeoning cybersecurity programs. In collaboration with Cyber Florida, James Welsh, director of the Florida Center for Instructional Technology, served as principal investigator of the Cyber/IT Pathways Project – a state-funded initiative to bolster the cybersecurity workforce through industry certifications, internships and educational materials. 

"Pathways projects had a direct and positive impact on more than 27,000 Floridians, but the real value of the investment is in the connections created between cybersecurity educators at institutions at all levels across the state, sharing best practices and innovative strategies directly with other educators," Welsh said.

Jeffrey Krischer

Jeffrey Krischer [Photo by Allison Long, USF Health]

Engineering research spending jumped 22% to $62 million with new initiatives in bioengineering, human mobility and defense research. Health sciences and social sciences also experienced double-digit percentage increases of 14% and 12%, respectively.

At $42 million, the USF Health Diabetes and Endocrinology Center generated the most research expenditures of any unit at USF. The center coordinates an international network of university medical centers and health care providers to study the causes of Type 1 diabetes and strategies for its prevention, resulting in the first-ever drug approved by the FDA for diabetes prevention. Even more exciting results are coming as the center supports leading-edge research in genomics, proteomics, metabolomics and the largest microbiome study ever conducted in humans. 

Jose Castillo

[Photo courtesy of Associate Professor Jose Castillo]

“The result of our work together with physicians and scientists from all over the world has made a profound difference in many people’s lives,” said center Director Jeffrey Krischer. 

The Institute for School-Community Partnerships in the College of Education, led by Associate Professor Jose Castillo, utilized $17 million in research expenditures to implement several impactful projects, such as comprehensive training and technical assistance on literacy instruction, mental health services and assistive technology for students with disabilities. These supports were designed to improve the academic, social and overall well-being of students across the state of Florida. 

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Medical research spending: where does the money go.

Psychologist, Author, Media Contributor

where does medical research funding come from

With the advent of ObamaCare and the promise of prevention as part of the health care debate, it seems important to consider how our tax dollars are spent. I never used to think about the spending of medical research dollars, beyond knowing that three percent of the GNP goes to science and healthcare spending. This is no small chunk of change: The Academy Heath Report in 2005 indicates that in 2003, the federal government spent $34.3 billion on health research. But where federal research dollars go is more political than many of us might think.

The politics of illness are complex. Certain diseases have large communities of support, celebrity spokespeople and ample funding. Of course, it is understandable that some illnesses, especially more common diseases, would attract more advocacy and research dollars (which come from both public and private resources). But mortality rates of illness don't quite match up with the amount of money spent on people with specific illnesses. For example, consider the amount of federal funds spent per person for the top cancer diseases. Statistics provided by the National Cancer Institute Financial Management Branch and the American Cancer Society report that in 2008 an average of 1,249.00 was spent per lung cancer patient death, 6,590.00 for colon cancer, 14,336.00 for prostrate cancer and a staggering 27,480.00 for patients who died of breast cancer. While the lowest amount of money spent per person is for lung cancer, this disease has the highest incidence and mortality rate; the next highest mortality rates were for colorectal and then breast cancer. Of note, tobacco settlement money is not being spent on lung cancer research; rather, 46 states have used this money to balance their budgets and in 2004, three percent of tobacco settlement money was spent on tobacco prevention.

As breast cancer is distressingly common, it may be understandable that victims of this disease have access to more resources and more financial support. However, these statistics raise some important questions. Namely, who decides how much money goes to federal research for specific diseases? It turns out that this question is not very easy to answer.

Plenty of anecdotal reports have suggested that research dollars are allocated when a member of Congress advocates for funding of a disease, often in cases in which a family member is stricken with a specific illness; this powerful emotional pull has weight in the determination of funding. Perhaps it comes as no surprise that politics is important in the financing of disease research dollars, with the middle classes coming out on top due to the fact that people with resources can advocate and demand funding. Robert Field, JD, MPH, PhD of Drexel University reinforced this view. In his book, Health Care Regulation in America, Field notes that because of the ways government regulated agencies operate regarding funding and competition, dollars for one disease can mean that there is less money available for another. As a result public research funding has become quite political, with lobbying groups having an influence in NIH funding-- and hence the personal lobbying taking place by members of Congress.

Field also notes that the research system in this country has a "vast public-private partnership" in which private investigators (through universities and foundations) have a say in how public dollars are spent. This is in contrast to many other countries, in which the government decides how health research money is allocated. Though Field notes that such a system can be viewed as democracy in action, it remains the case that in the US federal funding is impacted by influence--but some might call this a Faustian bargain. Aren't universities and foundations impacted by all kinds of influences we have grown to be wary of--i.e. pharmaceutical companies?

Along these lines, Bruce G. Charlton, MD , views the medical research system as morally bankrupt. Charlton told me via e-mail that modern medical science is "basically corrupt, untruthful and indeed is not real..." This view could be seen as extreme, as I know many well-intentioned scientists who try to do the right thing. But Charlton has a valid point, in that science can be contaminated by outside influences, so much so that the truth in the discipline can be lost. And there may be something wrong with the idea of parsing out research dollars based on emotions and influence.

And where does prevention fit into medical research spending? When I spoke with Dr. Field, he pointed out that we humans seem to be geared toward issues that give us emotional satisfaction. Science has a much stronger emotional pull when it can point to evidence of how it saves people who were once ill and do not die. This is more compelling than when we simply prevent disease. In other words, there is much more emotional valence in saying, "that person had cancer and is now better," as opposed to "we got that person to quit smoking and so now he may not get cancer." Interestingly, Field remarked that Americans seem to feel this way more than our foreign counterparts. However, I imagine these explanations are of little comfort to those with diseases that are not at the top of the government finance list and for whom prevention could have kept loved ones alive.

We need more accountability and transparency regarding the allocation of federal research dollars in medical science. And with the promise of a new health care plan looming, it would be nice to give some hope to people with all kinds of diseases, not just those that affect the middle-class and our limited and inherently biased ideals of those who need our help.

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Where does public funding for cancer research go

Anthi trasta.

1 EMBO, Heidelberg, Germany

Public funding for research into cancer or other diseases should match public health needs and disease prevalence. In reality, however, other factors influence the allocation of disease‐specific research funding.

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With the advent of vaccines, antibiotics, hygiene, and food safety, the toll of infectious diseases on human lives has decreased substantially. Pathogens are no longer the major cause of death, disability, and suffering in both the developed world and many developing countries. In lieu, other diseases have risen in importance: According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, and chronic respiratory diseases—primarily chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)—are now the major causes of death and disability worldwide. CVD, the principal health problem for developed countries, has been the primary cause of mortality since 1921. Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally after CVD; in 2015, it killed 8.8 million people ( ), and the number of patients diagnosed with cancer grows each year as populations get older. COPD has become the third most deadly disease after cancer, causing 3.2 million deaths in 2015 1 .

… as money flows into research institutes, universities and hospitals, the question is how funding is being allocated to study specific diseases…

It is harder to compare such numbers with CVD, also known as “heart disease”, which includes multiple conditions and diagnoses, such as chest pain (angina), myocardial infarction, or stroke. In contrast, COPD and cancer are more clearly identifiable diseases in terms of diagnosis, biology, and pathogenesis. COPD is a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes breathing difficulties, whereas cancer is an uncontrollable division of cells that invade nearby tissues.

Governments, industry, and philanthropies have been investing massively into research to understand the causes and mechanisms of these diseases and to develop new diagnostics, therapies, and preventive measures. Yet, as money flows into research institutes, universities, and hospitals, the question is how funding is being allocated to study specific diseases; in other words, does the investment meet the needs in terms of prevalence, mortality, and suffering.

Disease‐related funding for research

The bulk of funding for basic research into these common complex diseases comes from the government, followed by the pharmaceutical industry with some contributions by charity organizations. Public funding agencies, such as the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), the European Research Council, or the UK Medical Research Council, spend billions on research into these diseases each year. The 2017 NIH budget for medical research was US$33.1 billion, US$825 million higher than in 2016. Of these, NIH invested US$6.3 billion in 2017 for research on cancer ( ).

The difficult decision that politicians and administrators face is how to allocate the financial resources to each disease. In fact, various studies show that governmental funding is not directly associated with disease burden: Some types of cancer appear to be relatively over‐ or underfunded 1 , 2 . For instance, in 2015, NIH spent US$674 million for breast cancer research versus US$349 million for lung cancer, although lung cancer killed more than 163,000 Americans, as opposed to 51,000 people who died from breast cancer the same year ( ; Table  1 ). The NIH spending for prostate cancer in 2015 was US$288 million, which is less than half that for breast cancer, despite the fact that 40,000 patients died from prostate cancer, just 20% less than breast cancer patients. The funding for pancreatic cancer was even less: US$174 millions, while 43,000 people died from it. The difference between public funding and disease burden is even more striking in the case of COPD: NIH invested a mere US$97 million, almost seven times less than for breast cancer, although COPD killed 292,000 Americans, six times more than breast cancer.

The allocation of research funding is highly inequitable.

Disease burden and research spending in the United States. NIH Funding for Various Research, Condition, and Disease Categories

Source: , accessed 1.12.17.

The funding situation in the UK is similar to that in the United States: The ratio of proportional funding to proportional mortality for 2010 was 4.91 for leukemia and 2.46 for breast cancer, as compared to 1.05 for prostate cancer, and only 0.37 and 0.23 for pancreatic and lung cancer, respectively 1 (Table  2 ). The vast differences between breast cancer and leukemia on the one hand and lung cancer and COPD on the other hand are also obvious in China, which has seen a drastic increase in lung cancer and COPD cases during the past 15 years, most likely due to air pollution. However, research funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) seems to be more geared toward leukemia and breast cancer; the NSFC spend was 29,450 RMB for COPD and 63,580 RMB for lung cancer in 2012, versus 95,360 RMB for breast cancer and 32,7854 for leukemia, while the death rates were 934,000 for COPD and 513,000 for lung cancer, against 58,000 and 53,000 for leukemia and breast cancer, respectively 3 (Table  3 ).

Disease burden and research spending in the UK for selected diseases

Source: Carter et al 1 .

Mortality of selected diseases and research spending in China

Source: Xu et al 3 .

Inequitable funding

Overall, the data indicate that public research money is not distributed proportionally based on disease prevalence and burden. “The allocation of research funding is highly inequitable”, commented Lawrence Gostin, Professor of Global Health Law at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, USA. In particular, breast cancer and leukemia receive a higher amount of research money relative to disease burden. “These diseases have highly passionate and vociferous advocates”, Gostin explained. “Leukemia is fueled by the face of children, highly compelling symbols that are sympathetic to audiences and the political community. Breast cancer has perhaps the most powerful and sympathetic advocates, often young mothers. It is also associated with women's rights, so there is synergy between the rights and needs of women and breast cancer”. The pink ribbon, for instance, the symbol of breast cancer activism, was promoted by Self magazine and Estee Lauder cosmetics in 1992, one year after the Visual AIDS Artists' Caucus created the red ribbon symbol for AIDS. “Breast cancer took a leaf out of the AIDS movement, with pink rather than red ribbons”, Gostin said. “In the US, even hulking NFL players wear pink”.

There are similar social reasons why COPD, lung cancer, and pancreatic cancer do not receive the same level of funding relative to mortality and burden. “The reason is there are no social movements around these diseases. As there are no identifiable and passionate advocates for these specific diseases, they are underfunded”, Gostin commented. Indeed, patient advocacy does have an impact on allocating research funding. “Patient activism and engagement is part of the policy making process”, said Jeremy Sugarman, Professor of Bioethics and Medicine, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, USA. This is not necessarily an issue of overfunding or underfunding, Sugarman explained, but the fact that lobbying helps to attract funding for certain diseases and conditions. “If you hear stories that are well told, they attract funding”, he said. “As a society, we tend to pay attention to situations of urgency made clear through compelling narratives”.

Lung cancer and COPD have an additional perception problem that might affect research funding into these diseases. Most patients are smokers, and there is a seemingly simple solution to prevent the disease that requires no research at all: stop smoking. “Lung cancer may be perceived as more related to smoking and therefore potentially avoidable and not random”, commented Alastair Gray, Professor of Health Economics and Director of the Health Economics Research Centre at University of Oxford. What is more, lung cancer and COPD patients are often blamed for their own malady. “There is a major issue of blaming the victim”, added Gostin.

Funding by charities

These discrepancies in disease‐related research funding are also reflected in charities' funding for research. In 2017, the US Breast cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) awarded US$59.5 million and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society US$40.3 million for research projects. The Lung Cancer Research Foundation spent US$1.6 million this year, and the COPD Foundation handed out only US$470,439 in research grants in 2016. The Prostate Cancer Foundation invested a total of US$25 million 2016, less than half of the money spent by the BCRF, which is the same ratio as NIH's funding for prostate versus breast cancer.

As a society, we tend to pay attention to situations of urgency made clear through compelling narratives.

“Survivors are a really powerful population in allocating funding in certain areas”, said Rachel Stirzaker, Director of Strategy of Cancer Research UK (CRUK). “Diseases with a higher number of survivors will have more weight behind them, and this reinforces more support for those diseases with high survival”. The 5‐year relative survival rate for stage III breast cancer, for instance, is about 72%, as opposed to 7% for pancreatic and 4% for lung cancer ( ). As Stirzaker said, a larger number of survivors help philanthropic organizations to fund and support research into these diseases.

The effects of research itself

Yet, disease burden and patient lobbying are not the only factors that influence public funding policies. As Sugarman explained, the scientific merits of research projects as well as the potential of research lead for developing treatments and diagnostics are also important determinants. Basic and clinical research findings that highlight promising avenues for treatment can turn the direction of basic research toward that disease. “I don't think many people are arguing that burden should be the only criterion”, Gray said. “There may be differences in how amenable diseases are to research‐based solutions, or it may be a role of the government to ‘over‐invest’ in areas that private and charitable spending ‘under‐invest’ in. Alternatively, there may sometimes be a case for ‘over‐spending’ to build research capacity”.

… companies seem to see lung cancer as a promising market for new treatments and thereby complement publicly funded research.

Likewise, pharmaceutical companies invest into research that is likely to yield results and thereby marketable products. However, pharmaceutical and biotech companies also invest into unmet medical needs so as to explore new markets. NIH reported 7,857 ongoing clinical trials for breast cancer in 2017, 5,360 for leukemia, and 5,912 for lung cancer. As most clinical trials are financed by the private sector, the high number for lung cancer relative to public funding indicates that companies seem to see lung cancer as a promising market for new treatments and thereby complement publicly funded research. There are 3,775 ongoing trials for prostate cancer, 2,997 for COPD, and 2,075 for pancreatic cancer, which is probably due to the fact that basic research and clinical research into these diseases are less advanced.

There are, however, other factors that influence the allocation of public money for research than just public perception, lobbying, or other social aspects. “In well‐established fields, it is more likely that these disease sites will have usable samples, existing drugs, and other things that researchers can work on in order to conduct their research”, Stirzaker explained. “This means that the research ecosystem sort of encourages more of the same type of research to be done”. In addition, scientists' reluctance to move from well‐established and well‐funded research fields into riskier areas reinforces the status quo. “Even if you want to spend more money on an area, there are not always people there for you to spend it on”, Stirzaker said. It can also lead to systemic bias, as funding decision panels will more likely consist of researchers from more established research areas, which could bias funding decisions, Stirzaker explained.

… scientists' reluctance to move from well‐established and well‐funded research fields into riskier areas reinforces the status quo.

Furthermore, funding decisions are typically based on the quality of the research proposal or the institution. According to Stirzaker, well‐established research fields are also more likely to come up with better‐formulated proposals and grant applications. To address these systematic issues, CRUK has begun to shift resources to underfunded diseases; it more than doubled its funding for lung cancer from £16 million in 2013–2014 to £43 million in 2016. “I think funding should be linked to the burden of disease and the potential for saving lives”, she commented. “But it's a very hard thing to shift; you can't just throw money at the problem – you may have to grow the new field”.

A more systematic approach

From a public health point of view, the allocation of research money should reflect the incidence, the mortality, and the social burden of a disease. From an egalitarian point of view, research funding of disease‐related research should be distributed fairly and impartially. Yet, democracy and freedom of speech also empower patients, their families, and their communities to raise their voices and convince politicians and the public that their plight deserves special attention. These values are sometimes incompatible, but the fact that some diseases are less “popular” than others should not limit research into their causes, their biology, or into possible treatments. “We wouldn't want the situation to be based solely on having the loudest person's priorities being funded; we have to take care that the needs of the less vocal as well as the least well off are taken care of”, Sugarman said. “Governments should find ways to establish fair processes of making fair and right decisions”.

To counter the effects of lobbying on public funding allocation would require a wider mobilization of public interest so as to draw attention to neglected diseases.

It is also necessary to look at the whole picture of government funding allocation from a broader perspective. Sugarman pointed out that we need a better view of the entire space of funding mechanisms before we could make a case for redirecting investments into particular disease‐related research. “It is not simply a matter of disease prevalence to the amount of funding”, he said. “[…] that may not represent what's being done for treating of those diseases, preventing those diseases or what other social needs necessarily compete with such funding decisions”. Moreover, disease burden is not merely a matter of incidence, mortality, or disability. “There are several ways of measuring burden, which might give slightly different results—for instance if informal care costs, or social care costs are included or excluded”, commented Gray. In the case of lung cancer and COPD, for instance, public health agencies have invested massively into smoking cessation campaigns owing to their strong association with smoking.

Nonetheless, the current funding situation could be improved to better meet clinical and societal needs. “The distribution of funds makes little sense from a public health or ethics perspective”, criticized Gostin. “Population health and fairness require a closer alignment of funding with the global health impacts”. To counter the effects of lobbying on public funding, allocation would require a wider mobilization of public interest so as to draw attention to neglected diseases. “What we want to do is to have fair processes that includes broad community engagement as well as scientific engagement to be taken into account as allocation decisions are being made”, Sugarman commented. “Governments should be able to take a more systematic approach”, Gray added. “Individual research councils should make decisions for a fairer allocation of money. There should ideally also be co‐ordination between different government‐funded research programs to obtain a more proportionate and fairer distribution”.

Yet, research councils and funding agencies are not the only decision‐makers—every part of the research enterprise shares responsibility for a fair allocation of funds. Funders, politicians, public health agencies, or international agencies, such as the WHO, as well as leaders of research institutions and senior researchers need to take a closer look at the health needs of the population to determine priorities in disease research. Assessing the deficiencies and gaps in biomedical research and care will help to optimize the use of available resources for research into the major diseases.


Home » Johns Hopkins University » Who Funds Medical Research In The Us?

Who Funds Medical Research In The Us?

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In the U.S., the federal government provides core sources of support for basic biomedical research and development. In general terms, 64 percent of all applied biomedical R&D funding comes from within the industry, while just 22 percent comes from the federal government.

Who funds medical research in the United States?

In addition to funding received from federal agencies and industry, academic and research institutions, including colleges and universities, independent research institutes (IRIs), and independent hospital medical research centers dedicated more than $14.2 billionof their own funds to medical and health R&D.

Who is the largest funder of medical research?

the NIH As part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the NIH is the nation’s medical research agency. As such it is the largest public funder of biomedical research in the world, investing some $37.3 billion annually in medical research.

Where does most medical research funding come from?

Medical research is funded by various entities, including the federal government, patient and disease groups, and industry. A primary source of federal funding for tomorrow’s cures comes from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) .

Who sponsors most of the biomedical research in the US?

The NIH remains the largest federal contributor to biomedical research, accounting for 84% of total federal funding in 2007.

How does the US fund medical research?

The major sectors responsible for funding medical R&D included industry; the federal government; academic and research institutions; foundations, voluntary health associations, and professional societies; and state and local governments .

Does NIH fund medical research?

NIH is the single largest funder of biomedical and behavioral research , with nearly two-thirds of its funding of research projects and centers supporting basic research.

Who is the biggest donor to the NIH?

The largest funder was the United States National Institutes of Health ($26.1 billion), followed by the European Commission ($3.7 billion), and the United Kingdom Medical Research Council ($1.3 billion).

Who is the biggest funder of the NIH?

The U.S. continues to be the largest funder of biomedical research worldwide. The U.S. was the largest R&D-performing country in 2016, with total expenditures estimated at $510billion. China, Japan, and Germany round out the top 4 for their contributions to the global total for research and development.

Who is Pubmed funded by?

Funding Support for Articles Cited in MEDLINE/PubMed

Who funds pharmaceutical research?

The principal investors in drug development differ at each stage. While basic discovery research is funded primarily by government and by philanthropic organizations , late-stage development is funded mainly by pharmaceutical companies or venture capitalists.

How much of medical research is privately funded?

Almost 75% of U.S. clinical trials in medicine are paid for by private companies. And, of course, some researchers today still fund small-scale studies out of their own pockets.

What percent of medical research is publicly funded?

What proportion of funding for medical research comes from the uk government.

R&D Funding System The government is the second largest funder, accounting for 23 percent , mainly through the Department of Health and the research councils.

How does funding affect scientific research?

Abstract. Research funding is an important factor for public science. Funding may affect which research topics get addressed, and what research outputs are produced . However, funding has often been studied simplistically, using top-down or system-led perspectives.

Which of the following is the most common source of human infection in the world?

The most common vector for human infection is the mosquito , which transmits malaria, West Nile virus, and yellow fever. Airborne transmission: Pathogens can also spread when residue from evaporated droplets or dust particles containing microorganisms are suspended in air for long periods of time.

How are research hospitals funded?

The two main types of research funding are public and private . “Public grant funding comes from federal or state governments,” says Dr.

Is the NIH funded by taxpayers?

The NIH is the federal steward of biomedical research in the United States. Taxpayers fund the NIH ; the NIH supports research into the underlying biology, etiology, and treatment of diseases; and benefits of that research are returned to taxpayers.

Is the NIH part of the CDC?

No, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health are separate operating divisions within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) . HHS has 11 operating divisions in total, as displayed on the HHS Organizational Chart.

Is NIH a federal government?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting medical research.

What kind of research does NIH fund?

Did you know that NIH is the largest public funder of biomedical research in the world, investing more than $32 billion a year to enhance life, and reduce illness and disability?

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