NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 11, 2010

A recent study by three Greek researchers examined Nobel Prize-winning research in medicine, physics and chemistry from 2000 to 2008.  They found that the United States -- via the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, among other government bodies -- funds a large amount of the highest-quality scientific work, much more than all other countries combined.  U.S. non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as the American Cancer Society, underwrote much of the research as well. 


  • Though industries fund more than half of U.S. biomedical research, their projects accounted for only about 1 percent of Nobel winners' work over the period studied.
  • In fact, even when non-U.S. researchers won Nobels, they were often funded by U.S. sources -- suggesting the United States' grip on groundbreaking research is not loosening as fast as some might suggest.  

Percentage of 2000-2008 Nobel-winning research, shown by source of funding received: 

  • 57 percent U.S. government funding.
  • 29 percent non-U.S. government funding.
  • 20 percent nongovernment funding.
  • 30 percent no outside funding.
  • 1 percent corporate funding.  

Source: Andrew Swift, "Prize Money," Foreign Policy Magazine, May/June 2010. 

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