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September 2, 2009

Researchers, Funding, and PrioritiesThe Razor's Edge

JAMA. 2009;302(9):1001-1002. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1262

Biomedical research in the United States is a $100 billion to $120 billion enterprise. Between 1994 and 2004 the total amount of research funding tripled and doubled in real terms after inflation adjustment.1,2 In 2009 the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided a 1-time one-third increase to the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), much of it earmarked for research in health services, outcomes, and clinical epidemiology. This pattern of sponsorship, even during a period of international financial stress, reflects the public's high regard for medical research and for the scientists who conduct it.3 This sponsorship confirms that biomedical research serves multiple purposes: not only to find new and more effective treatments, but also to generate commercial value for companies, to further political policy, to foster regional and national competitiveness, and to provide a source of jobs.

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