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Original Contribution
January 13, 2010

Funding of US Biomedical Research, 2003-2008

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Neurology, University of Rochester Medical Center (Dr Dorsey), University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry (Mssrs Reminick and George), Simon Graduate School of Business (Mr Reminick), College of Arts and Sciences (Mr White-Stellato), and Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology (Dr Beck), University of Rochester, Rochester, New York; University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio (Dr de Roulet); University at Buffalo School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Buffalo, New York (Mr Thompson); Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center (Ms Thai) and Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Dr Moses), Baltimore, Maryland; and Alerion Institute, North Garden, Virginia (Dr Moses).

JAMA. 2010;303(2):137-143. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1987

Context With the exception of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, funding support for biomedical research in the United States has slowed after a decade of doubling. However, the extent and scope of slowing are largely unknown.

Objective To quantify funding of biomedical research in the United States from 2003 to 2008.

Design Publicly available data were used to quantify funding from government (federal, state, and local), private, and industry sources. Regression models were used to compare financial trends between 1994-2003 and 2003-2007. The numbers of new drug and device approvals by the US Food and Drug Administration over the same period were also evaluated.

Main Outcome Measures Funding and growth rates by source; numbers of US Food and Drug Administration approvals.

Results  Biomedical research funding increased from $75.5 billion in 2003 to $101.1 billion in 2007. In 2008, funding from the National Institutes of Health and industry totaled $88.8 billion. In 2007, funding from these sources, adjusted for inflation, was $90.2 billion. Adjusted for inflation, funding from 2003 to 2007 increased by 14%, for a compound annual growth rate of 3.4%. By comparison, funding from 1994 to 2003 increased at an annual rate of 7.8% (P < .001). In 2007, industry (58%) was the largest funder, followed by the federal government (33%). Modest increase in funding was not accompanied by an increase in approvals for drugs or devices. In 2007, the United States spent an estimated 4.5% of its total health expenditures on biomedical research and 0.1% on health services research.

Conclusion After a decade of doubling, the rate of increase in biomedical research funding slowed from 2003 to 2007, and after adjustment for inflation, the absolute level of funding from the National Institutes of Health and industry appears to have decreased by 2% in 2008.