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International health research spending by the United States National Institutes of Health

Date: Wednesday 31 October 10.45–12.15
Source: Forum 11
Authors: Temina Madon, Science Policy Researcher, Division of International Science Policy, Planning and Evaluation, Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, USA
with Karen Hofman, Brian Zuckerman and Roger I Glass


The United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) supports and advances research relating to the causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of human diseases. In 2003, spending by the NIH constituted nearly 50% of worldwide public sector funding for basic health sciences research. Between 2000 and 2005, the agency's direct support for research conducted at foreign institutions quadrupled from US$ 70 million to US$ 285 million. Support has also increased for collaborations between American and foreign researchers. Because the NIH plays a key role in funding global health research, it is valuable to characterize its investment portfolio, to help inform the decision-making and priority setting of other research agencies and donors.

This study will estimate the total NIH investment in international research from 2004 to 2006. In particular, we will examine the share of spending directed to research and research training priorities of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Levels of NIH funding will be presented by country and geographic region, scientific discipline, and disease area. Information generated will show how NIH allocations are aligned with global health research priorities within different regions of the world. Given changing demographic trends, including aging populations and future shifts in the global burden of disease, we will also demonstrate how NIH investment in LMICs is distributed with respect to infectious and noncommunicable disease, as well as acute and chronic disorders.

This study represents a minimal data set, focused on research and training in collaboration with and by researchers in LMICs; therefore, it is likely that total investment in research relevant to populations in these settings will be underestimated.

Overall, the analysis will provide a snapshot of current NIH investment globally, demonstrating the agency's commitment to international health research. Having this information may enable other national governments and the private sector to leverage existing research investments in global health and potentially develop new partnerships. This study is timely given the African Union decision to designate 2007 as the `year for scientific innovations'. It is also responsive to recent calls for national governments to increase funding for global health research and make investments in this area more transparent.