U.S. Biomedical Research at a Precipice



By: Justin Chakma

Since 1950, U.S. government funding has supported research underlying 84 percent of Nobel Prizes awarded in Medicine & Physiology. These scientific breakthroughs have resulted in new medicines and created significant economic value. For example, the discovery of gene silencing, which won the 2006 Nobel Prize, led to more than 25 new therapies in development, and created two companies valued at over $8 billion in market capitalization. U.S. government funding has contributed to the development of almost half of all FDA-approved medicines. 

This marriage between federal research and industry helped establish our global preeminence in biomedical research for the last 50 years. But short-sighted cuts to federal research funding and the lack of a long-term industrial strategy have placed the U.S. biomedical research enterprise at the brink of a potentially irreversible decline. The purchasing power of grants from the National Institutes of Health declined by more than 20 percent from 2003 to 2013, and is poised to decline even further despite the recent budget accord.


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