Seminar by Dr Michael Head, University College London: "The funding of infectious disease research – data, databases and making it all mean something"

PG10, Talbot Campus, BU, 6/03/2014 15:00

Infectious diseases cause significant burden of disease both in the UK and globally. Research into these diseases is vital in order to further our understanding of them, and to aid the implementation of measures to prevent or treat infections. There has not previously been a systematic approach to analysing how funding monies are spent in this area of research. We created the Research Investments in Global Health (ResIn) study and obtained data from all the major public and charitable funding sources for infection-related research awarded to UK institutions for the period 1997-2010. We manually read each study and abstract (if provided) and assigned each study to a number of disease categories (e.g. HIV, tuberculosis, respiratory infections, antimicrobial resistance), as well as the type of science (e.g. laboratory studies, clinical trials) and several other areas.

We identified 6165 funded studies, with a total research investment of UK£2.6 billion. By disease, HIV received £461 million (17.7%), malaria £346 million (13.3%), tuberculosis £149 million (5.7%), influenza £80 million (3.1%), and hepatitis C £60 million (2.3%). We compared funding with disease burden (disability adjusted life years, DALYs, and mortality) to show where there may be low levels of investment relative to burden e.g. diarrhoeal infections (£254 million, 9.7%).  Further steps that we’d like to pursue include expansion from the UK to a global analysis that will allow more in-depth analysis of areas that should be prioritised in the future, and we are seeking funding to do that.

In the meantime, in order to make maximum use of our data, in collaboration with colleagues at Bournemouth University, we intend to create an online open-access database that will allow funders, policymakers and researchers to search and download the customised sections of the funding data, as well as presenting graphs and infographics as requested by the user.