Study Finds Allocation of NIH Funds Across Diseases Has Remained Stable Over Time

A study published in JAMA Network Open found that in 2019, allocation of NIH funding for 46 diseases was similar to funding in 2008, despite changes in disease burden over that time period.

The largest increases in research funding were seen in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, which received $2.3 billion in 2019, an increase of 352% from $530 million in 2008. Spending on interpersonal violence decreased 40% over the same period, from $236 million in 2008 to $141 million in 2019.

According to the study authors, research published over the last two decades showed a link between the amount of NIH funding and disease burden. A 1999 analysis reported that certain diseases, including AIDS, diabetes, dementia, and breast cancer, received more funding than would have been expected based on disability-adjusted life-years, while diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, perinatal conditions, and peptic ulcer received less.

“There are many reasons for Congress and the NIH to continue spending at levels similar to those of past years,” the researchers wrote. “Possibly the most important is that there is an infrastructure of people at the NIH and researchers in academic medical centers who have invested substantial human capital in certain diseases and may advocate maintaining funding.”

Source: Ballreich JM, Gross CP, Powe NR, et al. Allocation of National Institutes of Health Funding by Disease Category in 2008 and 2019. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(1):e2034890.