Funding of US biomedical research, 2003-2008

JAMA. 2010 Jan 13;303(2):137-43. 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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / economics*
  • Device Approval
  • Financing, Government / trends*
  • Health Policy / economics
  • Health Services Research / economics
  • Industry / economics
  • Local Government
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
  • Regression Analysis
  • Research Support as Topic / trends*
  • State Government
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration