How Research Funding Works


Antonio Scarpa, MD, PhD (in photo) and director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Center for Scientific Review, recently addressed an audience at The Commonwealth Medical College on how research dollars are allocated by the NIH. “The money that goes to NIH’s 24 Institutes and Centers usually varies in response to national needs,” says Scarpa. Does that determine what areas become attractive to scientists; in other words, do they follow the dollars? Scarpa agrees that researchers do keep an eye out for trends, but they’re just that – trends. “The first year a few people apply for funding opportunities and they are very successful. But the news gets around, then everybody applies and the payline for those applications is worse than others. The majority of the scientists are driven to do good science.” With healthcare access opened to all segments of our population thanks to the passage of reforms, the demand for physicians will increase, adds Robert D’ Alessandri, MD, President & Dean, The Commonwealth Medical College (Scranton). “The entire focus of our efforts at The Commonwealth Medical College is service to the community. Hopefully, our educational experiences will encourage more of our students to select primary care who will hopefully practice in northeast PA.”

(Photo credit: NIH)