Do the diseases that claim the most years of our lives really get the most research funding? This chart takes on that question — and reveals which diseases we may need to focus more on.
The chart is the work of Catherine Richards a staff scientist at the Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research on Dot Data and compares total NIH funding with the burden of disease, a measure used by health researchers to measure total years lost, both in terms of fatality (versus an average lifespan) and also in terms of years lost to illness or disability.
And while nobody would dispute that HIV and cancer have a huge human cost and urgently need more research, this chart reveals a few diseases that aren't getting enough funding, when you consider their dreadful impact.
Of course, where research dollars flow isn't — and shouldn't be — dictated simply in terms of which diseases lay claim to the most years, but also by, perhaps most importantly, where researchers see the most potential for a breakthrough. But, what the chart does do is highlight some of the illnesses that we could be focusing more attention on, perhaps to the benefit of everyone's health.