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Clin Invest Med. 2001 Apr;24(2):83-9.

Association between the burden of disease and research funding by the Medical Research Council of Canada and the National Institutes of Health. A cross-sectional study.

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Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Université de Montréal, Que.



The Medical Research Council of Canada (MRCC) is the major Canadian agency responsible for funding biomedical health research in this country. Disease-specific funding by the United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been studied and is not independent of burden-of-disease parameters. We tested the association between disease-specific MRCC funding, disease-specific NIH funding and various burden-of-disease parameters.


Information on 1994/99 MRCC funding was obtained from the MRCC database for 29 diseases. NIH funding and burden-of-disease counterparts for the year 1996 were gleaned from a recent publication. The association between data series was measured by correlation coefficients.


Disease-specific incidence, mortality and years-of-life lost did not correlate significantly with 1994/99 disease-specific MRCC funding but prevalence (r = 0.54, p = 0.005) and disability-adjusted life-years did (r = 0.48, p = 0.009). A correlation coefficient of 0.50 (p = 0.006) was calculated between 1996 NIH funding and 1996/97 MRCC funding. Two disease categories, cirrhosis and alcohol abuse, received a greater percentage of funds from the NIH than from the MRCC. Two other disease categories, epilepsy and perinatal disease, received a greater percentage of funds from the MRCC than from the NIH.


Disease-specific MRCC grants in the past 5 years correlated with 2 of the usual burden-of-disease parameters: disability-adjusted life-years and disease prevalence. A statistically-significant correlation was observed between disease-specific grants awarded by the MRCC and the NIH.

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