Author + information
- Michael S. Lauer, MD⁎ ()
- ↵⁎Office of the Director, Division of Cardiovascular Sciences, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Rockledge Center II, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Suite 8030, Room 8128, Bethesda, Maryland 20892
Dr. Galani asks a question of increasing interest to the scientific and policy community: What is the value of government-sponsored biomedical research (1)? Even before the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), economists and biomedical scientists published data demonstrating that National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) funding leads to economic growth (1,2), peer-reviewed publications in higher-impact journals (3), and improved public health (4).
To attempt to get some direct answers to this question specifically related to ARRA funding, the NIH is joining forces with the STAR METRICS (National Science Foundation in the Science and Technology in America's Reinvestment—Measuring the Effect of Research on Innovation, Competitiveness and Science) working group (5). Working under the auspices of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the STAR METRICS working group will examine impacts on job and economic growth, academic productivity (including publications and citations), and health outcomes.
In the meantime, NIH is already tracking publications. To date, NHLBI ARRA-funded research has led to 955 publications, with some appearing in high-impact journals such as Nature, Science, Circulation, and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (6,7).
This question applies to research investment broadly. Industry struggles with its research and development investments, with economic return as the primary measure. Industry focuses on applied rather than basic, early translational, or comparative effectiveness research precisely because economic impact is difficult to measure for these endeavors, and sponsors must be willing to take risks.
The NHLBI makes investments in generation of data and new knowledge wholly aware that scientific payoffs are variable and delayed. Knowledge has intangibles evident by their absence. As Henry Adams said, “A teacher affects eternity. He never can tell where his influence stops” (8). The same can be said of research: the fact that we don't know where it may lead is an argument in its favor, not a criticism.
- American College of Cardiology Foundation
- Family USA's Global Health Initiative
- Manton K.G.,
- Gu X.L.,
- Lowrimore G.,
- Ullian A.,
- Tolley H.D.
- The STAR METRICS Working Group
- ↵National Institutes of Health Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tool. http://projectreporter.nih.gov/reporter_PubResults.cfm?icde=5431812. Accessed September 20, 2010.
- Kim D.,
- Shinohara T.,
- Joung B.,
- et al.
- Adams H.,
- Nadel I.B.