Health Research for Philanthropic Foundations and Public Organizations

Philanthropy Funds 40% of Health Research Globally

Fully forty percent (40%) of the world’s health research is funded by publicly funded and philanthropic funding organizations . Such organizations play a central role in the development of innovation and knowledge development in fields such as bioinformatics and bioethics, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and innovative gene therapies.  Some research is crucial in areas that are not sufficiently profitable or where investment and access to care is limited. One example is behavioral health and substance use disorder . The involvement of public and philanthropic funding initiatives is essential in the development of new medical therapies and solutions to fight neglected diseases .   More recently, public funding and philanthropic gifts are making a difference in the development of new antibiotics .

Transparency and Objective Research is Essential

Financial and ethical transparency in donations and use of funds for medical research, population health analysis, etc. is required to ensure that the money goes to effective campaigns.  Visibility into who foundations use to decide what gets funded (in other words, the priority setting mechanisms and funding distribution mechanisms) can help funding organizations to choreograph their efforts.  This can prevent duplication of research and improve collaboration .  Financial and ethical transparency enables for independent evaluation of funding organization portfolios and efficacy . This is especially fundamental for public funding organizations.   Use of public funds for specific goals or grants often require reporting and adherence to specific Standards.  For philanthropic foundations, accountabilities are less specific.  However, given the substantial impact of some of these funders on the global landscape for health research, it makes sense to evaluate similar Standards for foundations .

A great deal of information now illuminates countries’ expenditures on health research . Yet there is little scrutiny of the funding patterns and mechanisms of individual funding organizations.  Correlating individual funding organizations’ expenditures on health research are at times constrained to one or several countries or to a select group of diseases, conditions, or social issues .  Our firm serves some of the top ten largest public and philanthropic funders of health research in the world, to report on what they fund, and on their mechanisms for distributing these funds (funding organizations’ priority setting mechanisms were beyond the scope of this study.

Nearly $40 Billion in Public and Philanthropic Health Research

  • Of the fifty-five (55) significant health research funding organizations, the ten largest funded research for $37.1 billion, constituting 40% of all public and philanthropic health research spending globally.
  • The largest was the U.S. National Institutes of Health (HIH) with grants of $26.1 billion.
  • Second was the European Commission with $3.7 billion
  • Next, the United Kingdom Medical Research Council with $1.3 billion.
  • The largest philanthropic funder was the Wellcome Trust with grants totaling $909.1 million.
  • The chief fund for health research via US development assistance was USAID at $186.4 million.
  • The most noteworthy multilateral funder was the World Health Organization at $135.0 million.

Our Research Offerings for Philanthropic Foundations

Health data is complex.  Our team of clinical, biomedical informatics and bioethics experts can act as interpreters between complex data sets and knowledge that can be used to make better philanthropic decisions.

  • Population health research
  • Substance use disorders – impact on populations of controlled substances
  • Injury causation data
  • Gene therapy effectiveness
  • Research for specific medical specialties such as orthopedics, cardiology, nephrology, palliative care

Examples of our work include research for publicly funded information services.

Hear Michel F Arrigo’s interview on National Public Radio and Kaiser Health News here

Prior projects include work with AMREF.  The African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) is a non-governmental organization founded and based in Africa with 50 years’ experience in health development. Today, it is one of the continent’s leading research organizations. It implements projects through country programs in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Southern Sudan and South Africa; while training and consulting support are provided to 30 more countries. AMREF’s mission is to ensure that every African can enjoy the right to good health by helping to create vibrant networks of informed communities that work with empowered care providers in strong health systems.

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