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Persistent Gap

A small number of researchers and institutions receive a large portion of US National Institutes of Health funding, ScienceInsider reports.

A pair of researchers from Harvard University sifted through projects NIH funded between 1985 and 2015 to examine funding patterns over time.

As they detail in their report, Harvard's Yarden Katz and Ulrich Matter found that, in 2010, the top 10 percent of PIs received about 40 percent of NIH funding, while the bottom 40 percent of PIs received about 11 percent of funding. ScienceInsider notes that, in 1985, the top 10 percent of PIs received 32 percent of the funding and the bottom 40 percent received 16 percent of funding.

In addition, the PIs in that top bracket received a median $1.45 million in funding, while those in the bottom 40 percent had a median $140,000 in funding in 2010, according to the researchers.

They further reported that when examined by institution, the gap was even wider. The top 10 percent of organizations received more than 80 percent of funding, while the bottom 40 percent of organizations received less than 1 percent.

While ScienceInsider points out this disparity in funding has been known, Chris Pickett, the executive director of Rescuing Biomedical Research, notes that the report underscores that it has persisted for decades.