When NIH funding slumps, the United States falls behind in innovation, competition, and power.
Creating new businesses and new jobs keeps U.S. companies competitive in global markets.
The United States has long been the global leader in medical research but other nations are increasing their investments and catching up. Allowing the NIH budget to wither threatens our leadership on the world stage in science and innovation. Adjusted for inflation, NIH currently receives nearly $5 billion less than it did in 2003. Congress has made great strides to close the gap in funding over the past several years but there still is work to be done.
If current trends continue, China will outspend the U.S. on research and development by 2020. They are now investing $9 billion in genetic testing alone to beat us. We cannot afford to let America fall behind. Our long history of leadership and innovation in biomedical research has fueled our country’s economic competitiveness and global scientific leadership. But with NIH funding not keeping pace with inflation, we are experiencing a great American "brain drain" as bright, young scientists are forced to move overseas to pursue research careers, or leave the field altogether.
The Threat of Falling Behind
The erosion of NIH’s purchasing power since 2003 jeopardizes our ability to fund the most promising research ideas and retain the world’s best and brightest scientists – slowing our discovery of new treatments and cures for the deadliest diseases. Without restored funding for NIH, we won’t be able to fund promising research proposals that might reveal the roots of autism or the causes of cancer.
Stalled funding risks the U.S. falling behind our global competitors:
- In a 2013 survey of more than 3,700 U.S. scientists, nearly half had to lay off researchers due to funding cuts. That same year, NIH was forced to fund 752 fewer research proposals due to sequestration.
- Asia’s share of worldwide R&D grew from 27 percent to 40 percent, while the U.S. share declined from 35 percent to 27 percent between 2003 and 2013.
- China is the world’s second-largest R&D performer with $337 billion in R&D expenditures reported in 2013. While this is three quarters the U.S. level, growth in China’s R&D spending has averaged 17 percent annually from 2003 to 2013. By comparison, the pace of growth has been much slower in the U.S. at just 2.4 percent.
- In 2013, the U.S. ranked 11th in R&D intensity – how much R&D is done relative to production, value added, or sales – and was surpassed by Israel, South Korea, Japan, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Taiwan, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany.
- India has posted double-digit R&D increases for several years, and Europe plans to increase research spending by 40 percent over the next seven years.
We Must Act Now to Retain U.S. Global Competitive Leadership
The erosion of NIH’s purchasing power hurts U.S. job creation and economic growth. NIH supports nearly 400,000 jobs at universities, businesses, and laboratories in every state across the country, generating $65 billion in economic output in 2016 alone.
Without a significant increase in funding for NIH followed by a commitment to steady, predictable growth, the U.S. medical research community – and the jobs it creates and supports – face a bleak future.
We must act today to reassert American leadership in biomedical research and ensure that the best and brightest scientists have the support they need to continue making the medical discoveries that have been the hallmark of U.S. research for decades.