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COMMENTARY AND DISCUSSION Further Analysis ofResearch Support at NIH G. DONALD WHEDON* I would like to begin my comments on Dr. Bever's paper by presenting some additional background information [1] on research funding by the National Institutes of Health. Figure 1 is a graphic history from 1950 to 1978 of NIH research grant awards shown in current dollars and in constant dollars. From a rather humble beginning in the early 1950s, there was in the late 1950s and early 1960s a dramatic increase in research grant funds. In the late 1960s, beginning about 1967, there occurred a leveling off in current or absolute dollars and, of course, a dip in constant dollars. "Constant" dollars, I think you all realize, represent a recalculation of actual dollars as an adjustment for the rate of inflation of that time. Then, beginning at about 1974, the appropriation total for NIH research grants increased again in a very rapid fashion, bringing about a recovery as far as constant dollars are concerned, but I am quick now to emphasize that this is the NIH total. If one breaks down the total and looks at it by institutes, one sees quite a different story. Figure 2 shows in four sections the research grant cost in total constant dollars among the institutes. What I want to point out is that the overall NIH increase seen in figure 1 is really due entirely to two institutes—the National Cancer Institute, beginning in about 1972 and extending on up until about 1976, and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute with an increase that is not as great, but nevertheless definite. If one looks at these lines in constant dollars for the other institutes, one sees an entirely different picture. For NIAMDD, there was a sagging from about 1969 until 1976; then in 1977, 1978, and 1979 my institute had significant increase in our appropriations so that the constant dollars show *Director, National Institute of Arthritis, Metabolism, and Digestive Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20014.© 1980 by The University of Chicago. 0031-5982/80/2322-0153$01.00 S34 I G. Donald Whedon ¦ Research Support at NIH NIH RESEARCH GRANT AWARDS, FISCAL YEARS 1950 - 1978 MILLIONS S 1600 CURRENT DOLLARS 600 K CONSTANT DOLLARS 505560657075 note: nih is defined throughout as presently constituted. excludes rcp awards and to. •based on the gnp implicit price deflator, fv 1958=100. source: nih, drg, statistics and analysis branch Fig. 1 l/D RESEARCH GRANT TOTAL COSTS (CONSTANT DOLLARS!, FISCAL YEARS 1969-1973 NCI, NIAMDD, NIEHS MILLIONS 1210 r 120 r NIAMDD DRR, NICHO, NIA S210 r 180 r150 H NICHD NHLBI, NINCDS, NEI MILLIONS NINCDS NIGMS,NIAID,NIDR $210 180 150 120 90 60 30 0 note: based on biomedical rld price deflator fy 1969=100. excludes to. source: nih, drg, statistics and analysis branch. Fig. 2 a recovery. The other institutes remained more or less level or showed a gradual drop; the Division of Research Resources (DRR) decreased considerably from 1970 to 1978. Figure 3 calls attention particularly to the situation with respect to the Division of Research Resources. In terms of research grant award ranking by institutes, DRR was first in 1970. The figure of $1 17 million is inclusive of the general research support grants and accounts for DRR being number 1 at that time. What has happened from 1970 to 1978 is that the ranking of DRR and NCI has switched. NCI is now first, DRR is fifth; all the others have stayed in the same rank. Figure 4 shows that while this changing picture of appropriations was going on, with funds not particularly increasing for the institutes other than Heart and Cancer, the number of applications for research grants increased—steadily from 1970 through 1976 and markedly thereafter. That the quality apparently was holding up in the face of this increase seems to be attested by the fact that the configuration of the line "recommended for approval" is almost the same as for that of the total reviewed. If one then puts together the number of grants that institute managers carry over to the next year (because the grants are at the borderline of payment...


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