Financial anatomy of neuroscience research

Ann Neurol. 2006 Dec;60(6):652-9. doi: 10.1002/ana.21047.


Objective: To estimate the level of funding for neuroscience research from federal and industry sources and to examine the therapeutic advances in the neurosciences over the past decade.

Methods: We examined financing for neuroscience research over the past decade from the following principal sponsors of biomedical research: the National Institutes of Health, the pharmaceutical industry, large biotechnology firms, and large medical device firms. We also examined US Food and Drug Administration approvals for new molecular entities and medical devices for indications within the neurosciences. Neuroscience was defined to include funding and approvals for neurological and psychiatric conditions.

Results: Total (nominal) industry and government funding for neuroscience research increased from $4.8 billion in 1995 to $14.1 billion in 2005 and doubled after adjusting for inflation. In 2005, the pharmaceutical industry and the largest biotechnology and medical device firms accounted for 58% of total funding. The US Food and Drug Administration approved 40 new molecular entities for indications within the neurosciences from 1995 to 2005, with the annual number of approvals remaining relatively stagnant during this period. From 1995 to 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration also approved 1,679 medical devices in the neurosciences for use.

Interpretation: Financing for neuroscience research has increased significantly over the past decade, but new approvals for drugs in the neurosciences have not kept pace with the rapid increase in funding. This lag may represent a natural delay in realizing the return in the investment in scientific research or a decline in the productivity of neuroscience research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomedical Research / economics*
  • Biomedical Research / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Biomedical Research / trends*
  • Biotechnology / economics
  • Biotechnology / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Biotechnology / trends
  • Drug Approval
  • Drug Industry
  • Efficiency, Organizational / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
  • Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis
  • Nervous System Diseases / etiology
  • Nervous System Diseases / therapy
  • Neurosciences / economics*
  • Neurosciences / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Neurosciences / trends*
  • Research Support as Topic / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Research Support as Topic / trends*
  • United States