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March 16, 1990

The Financing of Biomedical Research

Author Affiliations

Chapel Hill, NC

Chapel Hill, NC


by Eli Ginzberg and Anna B. Dutka, 144 pp, $18.50, ISBN 0-8018-38134, Baltimore, Md, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989.

JAMA. 1990;263(11):1569. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440110147042

The story of how the National Institutes of Health extramural grant programs grew following World War II is familiar political lore. The best versions are Elizabeth Drew's 1967 Atlantic Monthly article "The Health Syndicate: Washington's Noble Conspirators" and Stephen Strickland's book Politics, Science and Dread Disease (1972).

In explaining the current status of biomedical research funding, Eli Ginzberg and Anna B. Dutka cover some of the same ground as Drew and Strickland, but, unlike these earlier accounts, The Financing of Biomedical Research is not narrative history. It is rather an analysis of the flow of money—the ups and downs and shifting channels. Yet, there is a story here, too. Between 1940 and 1987, national spending on biomedical research increased (in constant, uninflated dollars) by 4000%. Most of the new funds came from the federal government, which in 1940 had been responsible for only 7% of the spending on biomedical research