Is the NIH budget saturated?

Why hasn't more funding meant more publications?

Frederick Sachs
Sep 10, 2007
Editor's Note: This piece from our November issue ran online ahead of print to spark discussion. What's your hypothesis for why the doubling of the NIH budget doesn't seem to have doubled productivity? Please post a comment by clicking here. Complaints by scientists about the flat NIH budget have grown louder in recent years. For scientists to effectively lobby Congress for increased funding, however, we need to show that increased funding increases productivity. Given this need, I decided to examine scientific productivity as a function of the budget. Since the NIH budget doubled from $15 billion to $26.4 billion from 1999 to 2003 (Figure 1), I reasoned that there should have been a corresponding jump in productivity. The test was the simplest measure of productivity: the number of publications. (continued below)
Here's what I found: The number of biomedical publications from US labs did in fact increase from 1999-2004....
Ref 1Ref 2Ref. 3Ref. 4Ref. 5Frederick Sachs is a professor of physiology and biophysics at the University of BuffaloActa Crystallogr. D. Biol. Crystallogrhttp://www.the-scientist.com/pubmed/17704562PLoS Medicinehttp://www.the-scientist.com/pubmed/16060722Sciencehttp://www.the-scientist.com/pubmed/17110557J Clin Investhttp://www.the-scientist.com/pubmed/16585950J Clin Investhttp://www.the-scientist.com/pubmed/16585950

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