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The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the single largest funder of health research in the United States, and research it has supported has been pivotal to the explosion of biomedical knowledge over the past century. As NIH's success has grown, so has pressure from advocacy groups and other members of the public to devote more spending to their health concerns. In response to a request from Congress, this IOM study reviewed NIH's research priority-setting process and made recommendations for possible improvement. The committee considered the:

Factors and criteria used by NIH to make funding allocations.

  • Process by which the funding decisions are made.
  • Mechanisms for public input.
  • Impact of congressional statutory directives on funding decisions.

Among other recommendations, the book recommends that NIH seek broader public input on decisions about how to spend its nearly $14 billion budget; it also urged the agency to create new Offices of Public Liaison in the Office of the Director and in each of the 21 research institutes to allow interested people to formally take part in the process.


Suggested Citation

Institute of Medicine. 1998. Scientific Opportunities and Public Needs: Improving Priority Setting and Public Input at the National Institutes of Health. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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Publication Info

136 pages |  6 x 9 |  Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-309-06130-8

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