Federal Funding for Brain Research

Congressional Support Accelerates Discovery

In the late 1990s, Congress made a commitment to double the budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) over the course of five years. The primary goal for the added funds was to discover better treatments and cures for human disease. Congress delivered on its promise, and scientists have amassed a wealth of medical knowledge. Today, researchers have a greater understanding of how the brain and nervous system function due to NIH-funded research.

Many recent scientific discoveries, including those in neuroscience and behavior, have begun to reveal their potential. Insights into the biology of schizophrenia, epilepsy, Alzheimer's, and other brain disorders have led to the development of enhanced diagnostic techniques, better prevention methods, and more effective treatments. Simply put, the result of Congressional support for life sciences research leads to improved patient care. 


Today’s Research: Hope for the Future

Today's research is the foundation for future medical breakthroughs. The federal government's investment in research must be sustained in order to translate today's scientific findings into additional bedside treatments. As an example of NIH’s impact on clinical care, a recent report found that all of the 210 new drugs approved between 2010 and 2016 were supported, either directly or indirectly, by NIH-funded research.[1] Many of those discoveries benefited the neuroscience community including those listed below. Thus, ABC strongly supports funding for NIH in its entirety .

  • The development of drugs that reduce the severity of symptoms for those suffering with multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease
  • The identification of stroke treatment and prevention methods
  • The discovery of a truly new anti-depressants that produce more rapid action than their predecessors
  • The creation of new drugs to help prevent epileptic seizures
  • The expansion of treatments for the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia

[1] Galkina Cleary E, Beierlein JM, Khanuja NS, McNamee LM, Ledley FD. Contribution of NIH funding to new drug approvals 2010-2016. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018;115(10):2329-2334. doi:10.1073/pnas.1715368115


Research Improves Health and Fuels the Economy

Diseases of the nervous system pose a significant public health and economic challenge, affecting nearly one in three Americans at some point in life.  Improved health outcomes and positive economic data support the assertion that biomedical research is needed today to improve public health and save money tomorrow.  

Not only does research save lives, it is also a wise investment in the future.  For example, the nine most common brain diseases cost Americans an estimated $789 billion per year, a figure projected to increase sharply as the elderly population doubles from 2011 to 2050. Treatments that delay the onset and progression of the disease by even five years could save billions in healthcare costs each year.  Research funded by the NIH is critical for the development of such treatments.  The cost of investing in NIH today is minor compared to both current and future healthcare costs.  

Additionally, the direct economic benefit of investing in research is significant. One report found that NIH funding in FY 2017 supported more than 400,000 jobs and nearly $69 billion in economic activity across the United States.[1] As a result of this activity, twenty states experienced an economic gain of $1 billion or more.

A strong federal investment in research can assist your state in maintaining a biomedical research foundation that attracts companies and investors. 

Strong science funding can bolster the economy today and improve our nation’s long-term health and competitiveness tomorrow. Robust research and development investment remains the key to America's long-term global competitiveness.  NIH funding serves as the basis for future innovation and is crucial to  pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotechnology industries.

[1] NIH’s Role in Sustaining the U.S. Economy: 2018 Update. United for Medical Research. 2018. http://www.unitedformedicalresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/NIHs-Role-in-Sustaining-the-U.S.-Economy-2018-Update-FINAL.pdf Accessed February 26, 2019. 



NIH funding must be set at a sustainable level of at least three percent above the rate of increase in the Biomedical Research and Development Price Index (BRDPI).   

There is still much work to be done to uncover the mysteries of the brain.  Each year provides Congress with the opportunity to renew its previous commitment to health funding as a national priority. 

Updated by the American Brain Coalition Advocacy Committee March 2019.


Team Daniel running to support schizophrenia research. Courtesy of the
Brain and Behavior Research Foundation

American Brain Coalition

P.O. Box 1549 | Maple Grove, MN 55311 | Phone: (763) 557-2913