On 9/29/2014, The Des Moines Register reported on its front page, “The budget for the National Institute of Health… has shrunk about 20% over the past decade…” The article went on to describe the reduction in medical research dollars flowing to the University of Iowa and Iowa State University. What was not stated was the the reduction in spending was not a reduction in the actual dollars. It was only after adjusting for inflation that there was any decrease. Over the last decade (2003 – 2013) the dollars increased by $2.2 billion from $27.1 to $29.3 billion, an increase of 8%. Adjusted for inflation, this equals a cut of about 15%. If we look at the prior decade, (1993 – 2003), the appropriations increased from $10.3 to 27.1 billion – an increase of 164%! Taking the two decades together, the increase is 67%. Over the same two decades inflation totaled 61%. So, it appears that funding has mostly kept up with inflation plus a little more.
The demand for medical research funding paid for by taxpayers is almost unlimited. Therefore we must first decide how much we can spend, and then select research projects based on our priorities. Maybe the research that U of I and ISU have been proposing is not as high on our priority list as other proposals. Or, maybe we don’t have as much political power as some of the other research institutions.
Source NIH appropriations: http://www.nih.gov/about/almanac/appropriations/part2.htm
Source inflation – see table 24: http://www.bls.gov/cpi/cpid1408.pdf