Global Health R&D

“Supporting global health is good for Americans. [It] creates a tremendous glow of goodwill towards America…because we’re putting our science, our commitment, and our know-how to strengthen systems and protect people’s lives around the world and to generate new knowledge."

– Former CDC Director Thomas Frieden 


How important would you say it is that the U.S. work to improve health globally through research and innovation?


Source: A Research!America poll of U.S. adults conducted in partnership with Zogby Analytics in September 2015.  


Global health R&D has led to major advances against diseases like polio, meningitis, and guinea worm. But global health threats including HIV/AIDS, drug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases continue to afflict the developing world, draining their economy of resources and an able workforce. Infectious and parasitic diseases are responsible for over 25% of deaths worldwide, according to estimates by the WHO. Millions more are due to secondary effects of infection, such as malnutrition.

In an increasingly globalized world, we cannot ignore the suffering from disease elsewhere. Over 7 million Americans works overseas, including 300,000 government employees in the military, State department, USAID, and Peace Corps. More than 70 million Americans travel abroad each year, putting them at risk for infectious disease or other harms. Those returning or travelling to the U.S. risk transporting communicable diseases, as seen with the Ebola and MERS outbreaks in 2014.

The local spread of Chikungunya virus and Chagas disease in pockets of the U.S. demonstrate that debilitating diseases do not respect borders. There is no drug treatment for Chikungunya, no FDA-approved treatment for Chagas disease, and no vaccine for either. 

The establishment of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Peace Corps in 1961, along with the humanitarian work of the military, cemented the position of U.S. as the leading global agent for good. The U.S. spent over $7 billion last year fighting public health threats, nearly half of that for HIV/AIDS alone. Investment in R&D on vaccines and cures for global problems holds the promise to decrease the economic burden of disease while creating jobs in America. As former CDC director Thomas Frieden said in 2011, it’s “pay me now or pay me later in terms of communicable disease prevention and control.”

Additional Resources

Top 10 reasons to invest in global health R&D, click here.

Milestones in global health R&D, click here.

Why the U.S. should invest in global health, click here.

Global health blog posts, click here.

Research!America's survey data, click here


Policy Contacts

Director of Policy and Advocacy
Without research, there is no hope.
The Honorable Paul G. Rogers