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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Thursday, August 30, 2007

US research funding flat all over, report says

Industry R&D dollars have been leveling off at the same times as federal spending for biomedical research has flattened, says the advocacy group Research!America. Support from independent organizations, which account for 2 percent of the $116 billion spent on research in the United States last year, hasn't grown in five years.

The National Institutes of Health and other federal agencies have not seen their budgets grow since 2003, when medical inflation is taken into account. The total figure held steady at $37.7 million last year, including $28.5 billion for NIH. That has caused concern in Boston, whose teaching hospitals receive a total of about $1.4 billion a year in federal grants.

Nationally, the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical technology industries increased their research and development spending from $61 billion in 2005 to $64 billion in 2006, the report says. Industry budgets had been increasing along with government spending until three years ago, but have grown more slowly since. The report said there is a lag of about two years between what government and industry do.

In the independent category, made up of health associations, universities, private institutes, and state and local government funds, the total for 2006 came to $13.7 million, where it has been since 2001.

The investment in health research represents 5.5 cents of each dollar spent on health care, Research!America said. Other countries are stepping up their investments, Research!America president Mary Woolley told Science.

"The trends are not good," she said.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 06:09 PM
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