Mapping pneumonia research: A systematic analysis of UK investments and published outputs 1997-2013
Head MG, Fitchett JR, Newell ML, Scott JA, Harris JN, Clarke SC, Atun R
BACKGROUND: The burden of pneumonia continues to be substantial, particularly among the poorest in global society. We describe here the trends for UK pneumonia R&D investment and published outputs, and correlate with 2013 global mortality. METHODS: Data related to awards to UK institutions for pneumonia research from 1997 to 2013 were systematically sourced and categorised by disease area and type of science. Investment was compared to mortality figures in 2010 and 2013 for pneumonia, tuberculosis and influenza. Investment was also compared to publication data. RESULTS: Of all infectious disease research between 2011 and 2013 ( pound917.0 million), pound28.8 million (3.1%) was for pneumonia. This was an absolute and proportionate increase from previous time periods. Translational pneumonia research (33.3%) received increased funding compared with 1997-2010 where funding was almost entirely preclinical (87.5%, here 30.9%), but high-burden areas such as paediatrics, elderly care and antimicrobial resistance received little investment. Annual investment remains volatile; publication temporal trends show a consistent increase. When comparing investment to global burden with a novel 'investment by mortality observed' metric, tuberculosis ( pound48.36) and influenza ( pound484.21) receive relatively more funding than pneumonia ( pound43.08), despite investment for pneumonia greatly increasing in 2013 compared to 2010 ( pound7.39). Limitations include a lack of private sector data and the need for careful interpretation of the comparisons with burden, plus categorisation is subjective. CONCLUSIONS: There has been a welcome increase for pneumonia funding awarded to UK institutions in 2011-2013 compared with 1997-2010, along with increases for more translational research. Published outputs relating to pneumonia rose steadily from 1997 to 2013. Investment relative to mortality for pneumonia has increased, but it remains low compared to other respiratory infections and clear inequities remain. Analyses that measure investments in pneumonia can provide an insight into funding trends and research gaps. RESEARCH IN CONTEXT: Pneumonia continues to be a high-burden illness around the globe. This paper shows that although research funding is increasing in the UK (between 1997 and 2013), it remains poorly funded compared to other important respiratory infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and influenza. Publications about pneumonia have been steadily increasing over time, indicating continuing academic and clinical interest in the topic. Though global mortality of pneumonia is declining, it should still be an area of high priority for funders, policymakers and researchers.