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Focus on NIH: The big beast

How the NIH uses the US government’s billions to shape the world of biomedical research

The National Institutes of Health is in many ways in a league of its own as a public research funding agency. With a budget of $45.1 billion in 2022, it is the largest non-military government research spender in the United States and claims to be the largest public funder of biomedical research in the world.

Its history begins in 1887 and the establishment of the US Marine Hospital Service, which was originally tasked with checking passengers arriving at ports for disease. Since then, it has grown into a behemoth that has supported over 150 Nobel prizewinners, along the way becoming first the National Institute of Health in 1930 and then expanding to multiple institutes in 1948.

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