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U.S. global leadership in life sciences has long been an outcome of strong bipartisan support for life sciences research and development conducted through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Unfortunately, funding for the NIH has decreased substantially over the past decade. In real dollars, the NIH received a historic high of $27 billion in 2003. This was 0.24 percent of GDP. But funding has decreased year-over-year ever since—down to 0.17 percent of GDP in 2016.
Meanwhile, other competitor nations have increased their funding for life sciences R&D by allocating greater shares of their national incomes to it. For the U.S. government to restore NIH funding to a level comparable to 2003, it would have had to allocate an additional $11.6 billion dollars last year.