Global Health R&D

“Dealing with a formidable foe in the form of infectious diseases has amazing potential impact in a negative way, such as with an outbreak, or a positive way that you can do something about it."

– National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, MD


How important do you think it is that the U.S. is a global leader in research to improve health?


Source: A Research!America poll of U.S. adults conducted in partnership with Zogby Analytics in May 2018.  


Global health R&D has led to major advances against diseases like polio, meningitis, and the Ebola virus. But global health threats including HIV/AIDS, drug-resistant tuberculosis, malaria, hepatitis, and neglected tropical diseases continue to afflict the developing countries, draining their economy of resources and a productive workforce. In regions of the U.S., the local spread of Chikungunya virus and Chagas disease, two debilitating diseases without treatment or vaccines, demonstrate that epidemics do not respect borders. According to estimates by the World Health Organization, communicable diseases were responsible for over 17% of deaths worldwide in 2016.

An estimated nine million Americans work overseas. More than 87 million Americans traveled abroad in 2017, putting them at risk for infectious disease. Those returning or travelling to the U.S. risk transporting communicable diseases, as seen with the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and the Zika outbreak in 2016. According to a national public opinion survey commissioned by Research!America and the American Society for Microbiology, an overwhelming majority of Americans (95%) think infectious and emerging diseases facing other countries will pose a ‘major’ or ‘minor’ threat to the U.S. in the next few years. Furthermore, 93% agree that it is important for the U.S. to maintain global leadership in research to improve health.

Fortunately, new advances in vaccine technology are helping to eradicate and contain communicable diseases. An experimental vaccine was successfully used to contain and treat the 2018 Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A strong majority of Americans (85%) support increased federal spending on research to improve and find new vaccines.

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. invested more than $3.5 billion in FY2018 in public health preparedness, a 20% increase from the previous year. The Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018, has been instrumental in facilitating global health research partnerships. Increased investments in global health could potentially reduce the economic burden of disease and boost job growth in the U.S. As National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said, “Emerging infections are a perpetual challenge. We’ve always had them, we have them now, and we always will have them. So if they are a perpetual challenge and risk, we must meet them with perpetual readiness.”

Additional Resources

Top 10 reasons to invest 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

National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, click here

Consortium of Universities for Global Health, click here

Infectious Diseases Society of America, click here

University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, click here

Global Health Council, click here

American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene, click here

International Biomedical Research Alliance, click here

Policy Contacts

The capabilities are enormous, a little bit of research can pay off quite a bit in the long run.
Paul D’ Addario, retinitis pigmentosa patient