Perspectives on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Research Underfunded?

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2017 Dec 1;102(12):4421-4427. doi: 10.1210/jc.2017-01415.


Context: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine-metabolic abnormality with a worldwide prevalence of 4% to 21%, depending on diagnostic criteria. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the largest single funding agency in the world; it invests nearly $30.0 billion annually in biomedical research.

Evidence acquisition: Using the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting tool, we searched for all grants awarded by the NIH for PCOS and three other disorders with similar degrees of morbidity and similar or lower mortality and prevalence [rheumatoid arthritis (RA), tuberculosis (TB), and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)].

Evidence synthesis: We compared funding by the NIH for PCOS, RA, TB, and SLE research for the years 2006 to 2015, inclusive.

Conclusion: PCOS, compared with RA, TB, and SLE, was relatively less funded (total mean 10-year funding was $215.12 million vs $454.39 million, $773.77 million, and $609.52 million, respectively). Funding for PCOS was largely provided by one NIH Institute/Center (ICs) vs at least two ICs for SLE and RA; more individual Research Project Grants were awarded for RA, SLE, and TB than for PCOS, whereas PCOS funding was more likely to be through General Clinical Research Centers Program or Specialized Centers Program awards. Our data suggest that PCOS research may be underfunded considering its prevalence, economic burden, metabolic morbidity, and negative impact on quality of life. Greater education of NIH leaders, including those at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; other federal and state agency leads; elected leaders; and the general public by professional societies, the scientific community, and patient advocates regarding this disorder is needed.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / economics*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / therapy*
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life
  • Research / economics*
  • Research Support as Topic / economics
  • Research Support as Topic / statistics & numerical data
  • United States