Prize Money

A new study shows the United States is still invested in groundbreaking research.

569969_100425_dollarb2.jpg
569969_100425_dollarb2.jpg

A recent study by three Greek researchers examined Nobel Prize-winning research in medicine, physics, and chemistry from 2000 to 2008 and found that the United States -- via the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, among other government bodies -- funds a large amount of the highest-quality scientific work, much more than all other countries combined. U.S. NGOs, such as the American Cancer Society, underwrote much of the research as well. Meanwhile, though industries fund more than half of U.S. biomedical research, their projects accounted for only about 1 percent of Nobel winners' work over the period studied. In fact, even when non-U.S. researchers won Nobels, they were often funded by U.S. sources -- suggesting the United States' grip on groundbreaking research is not loosening as fast as some might suggest.

Percentage of 2000-2008 Nobel-winning research, shown by source of funding received:

A recent study by three Greek researchers examined Nobel Prize-winning research in medicine, physics, and chemistry from 2000 to 2008 and found that the United States — via the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, among other government bodies — funds a large amount of the highest-quality scientific work, much more than all other countries combined. U.S. NGOs, such as the American Cancer Society, underwrote much of the research as well. Meanwhile, though industries fund more than half of U.S. biomedical research, their projects accounted for only about 1 percent of Nobel winners’ work over the period studied. In fact, even when non-U.S. researchers won Nobels, they were often funded by U.S. sources — suggesting the United States’ grip on groundbreaking research is not loosening as fast as some might suggest.

Percentage of 2000-2008 Nobel-winning research, shown by source of funding received:

  • 57% U.S. government funding
  • 29% non-U.S. government funding
  • 20% nongovernment funding
  • 30% no outside funding
  • 1%  corporate funding

Due to overlapping funding sources, percentages do not add up to 100.

Source: Tatsioni, Vavva, Ioannidis, The FASEB Journal, May 2010

Andrew Swift is an editorial researcher at Foreign Policy.

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