Skip to main content
eScholarship
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UCSF

UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

NIH disease funding levels and burden of disease.

  • Author(s): Gillum, Leslie A
  • Gouveia, Christopher
  • Dorsey, E Ray
  • Pletcher, Mark
  • Mathers, Colin D
  • McCulloch, Charles E
  • Johnston, S Claiborne
  • et al.
Abstract

Background

An analysis of NIH funding in 1996 found that the strongest predictor of funding, disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs), explained only 39% of the variance in funding. In 1998, Congress requested that the Institute of Medicine (IOM) evaluate priority-setting criteria for NIH funding; the IOM recommended greater consideration of disease burden. We examined whether the association between current burden and funding has changed since that time.

Methods

We analyzed public data on 2006 NIH funding for 29 common conditions. Measures of US disease burden in 2004 were obtained from the World Health Organization's Global Burden of Disease study and national databases. We assessed the relationship between disease burden and NIH funding dollars in univariate and multivariable log-linear models that evaluated all measures of disease burden. Sensitivity analyses examined associations with future US burden, current and future measures of world disease burden, and a newly standardized NIH accounting method.

Results

In univariate and multivariable analyses, disease-specific NIH funding levels increased with burden of disease measured in DALYs (p = 0.001), which accounted for 33% of funding level variation. No other factor predicted funding in multivariable models. Conditions receiving the most funding greater than expected based on disease burden were AIDS ($2474 M), diabetes mellitus ($390 M), and perinatal conditions ($297 M). Depression ($719 M), injuries ($691 M), and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ($613 M) were the most underfunded. Results were similar using estimates of future US burden, current and future world disease burden, and alternate NIH accounting methods.

Conclusions

Current levels of NIH disease-specific research funding correlate modestly with US disease burden, and correlation has not improved in the last decade.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
Current View