1. Computational and Systems Biology
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Inequalities in the distribution of National Institutes of Health research project grant funding

  1. Michael S Lauer  Is a corresponding author
  2. Deepshikha Roychowdhury
  1. National Institutes of Health, United States
Research Article
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Cite this article as: eLife 2021;10:e71712 doi: 10.7554/eLife.71712


Previous reports have described worsening inequalities of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. We analyzed Research Project Grant data through the end of Fiscal Year 2020, confirming worsening inequalities beginning at the time of the NIH budget doubling (1998-2003), while finding that trends in recent years have reversed for both investigators and institutions, but only to a modest degree. We also find that career-stage trends have stabilized, with equivalent proportions of early-, mid-, and late-career investigators funded from 2017 to 2020. The fraction of women among funded PIs continues to increase, but they are still not at parity. Analyses of funding inequalities show that inequalities for investigators, and to a lesser degree for institutions, have consistently been greater within groups (i.e., within groups by career stage, gender, race, and degree) than between groups.

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Author details

  1. Michael S Lauer

    Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, United States
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-9217-8177
  2. Deepshikha Roychowdhury

    Office of Extramural Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.


National Institutes of Health

  • Michael S Lauer

National Institutes of Health

  • Deepshikha Roychowdhury

The authors are both full-time employees of the NIH and conducted this work as part of their official United States federal government duties.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Carlos Isales, Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: June 28, 2021
  2. Accepted: August 30, 2021
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: September 3, 2021 (version 1)


This is an open-access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.


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