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Useful Stats: NIH awards by metro, 2014-2018

July 18, 2019
By: Jonathan Dworin

Home to the Research Triangle Park and top-tier research universities like Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Durham-Chapel Hill metropolitan area led all regions in per capita NIH funding in FY 2018 and placed sixth in total funding that year, according to a new analysis by SSTI. This edition of Useful Stats looks at all NIH awards at the regional level over the five-year period between FY 2014 and FY 2018. Boston led all regions in total NIH funding in FY 2018, while NIH funding in the Washington, D.C., region increased by the greatest percentage over the five-year period among major metropolitan areas.

Over the five-year period between FY 2014 and FY 2018, the 268,355 awards distributed by NIH had a dollar value of more than $126.0 billion —with the vast majority (98.8 percent in FY 2018) going to grantees in metropolitan areas. In general, this analysis focuses on the 123 metropolitan areas with at least 20 NIH awards in FY 2018. For additional analysis, the attached spreadsheet includes data on the 314 metropolitan areas that received at least one NIH award over the five-year period, as well as the 205 areas that received at least one award in each of the five years.

The map below shows NIH funding and NIH funding per capita for the 123 metropolitan areas with at least 20 NIH awards in FY 2018.


In FY 2018, NIH funding per capita was greater than $1,000 in four metropolitan areas: Durham-Chapel Hill ($2,059.7 per person), Ann Arbor ($1,533.4), Rochester, Minnesota, ($1,035.6), and, Iowa City ($1,001.6). Among metropolitan areas with more than a million residents, NIH funding per capita was the highest in Boston ($548.6 per person), Baltimore ($330.1), and San Diego ($279.0) during the fiscal year. Illustrating a successful transition in their economy, regions like Birmingham ($270.5 per person, ranked 5th), Pittsburgh ($269.4, ranked 6th) and St. Louis ($187.2, ranked 10th) also appear in the top 10 of major metro areas in NIH funding per capita.

The map below shows per capita NIH funding and five-year changes in NIH awards for the 123 metropolitan areas with at least 20 NIH awards in FY 2018.


Among metropolitan areas with more than 1.0 million in population, the amount of NIH funding increased by the largest percent from FY 2014 to FY 2018 in Washington, D.C., (123.6 percent increase), Raleigh (99.6 percent increase), and Grand Rapids metropolitan areas (73.4 percent increase). The Tampa Bay (15.4 percent decrease), Richmond (5.4 percent decrease), and Virginia Beach (4.3 percent decrease) metropolitan areas were the only regions to see a decrease in NIH funding over the five-year period.  Of these regions, only Tampa Bay and Richmond experienced a decline in per capita NIH funding from 2014 to 2018.

Ultimately, metropolitan level analysis provides strong insight into the geography of NIH awards. In reality, however, there is considerable overlap between core-based statistical areas, which may overstate or understate the relative importance of awards. For example, this analysis placed all NIH awards with a Research Triangle Park address in the Durham-Chapel Hill MSA. However, because the analysis uses population to standardize data, this metropolitan region (which has less than half the population of the Raleigh MSA) stands out for its high levels of NIH funding per capita. Similarly, the Detroit and Ann Arbor metropolitan statistical areas are becoming increasingly connected through suburbanization, though Detroit ranks near the bottom in per-capita NIH funding and Ann Arbor is near the top.

Data on NIH awards stems from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT).  NIH provides city and state information for each award. Using a crosswalk application developed by the University of Missouri, SSTI was able to place each award from FY 2014 through FY 2018 in a metropolitan area. In a few instances, city names for NIH grantees were changed to an area within the same county (but within the same metropolitan area). U.S. Census population data was used to standardize NIH award data across metropolitan areas. In several cases, SSTI combined smaller metropolitan or micropolitan areas that had been absorbed by larger geographic regions. A list of these instances is included in the attached spreadsheet.

useful stats, nih, metrosFile Useful Stats (7-18-2019).xlsx