ASTRO: NIH underfunds radiation oncology research

By AuntMinnie.com staff writers

May 29, 2013 -- Radiation oncology research is gravely underfunded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), according to the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).

In a study published online and in the June 1 issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles found that radiation oncology research received a total of $85.5 million from 197 NIH grants in fiscal year 2013 -- only 1.6% of $5.4 billion in cancer research funding (Intl J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys, June 1, 2013, Vol. 86:2, pp. 234-240).

"Nearly two-thirds of cancer patients receive radiation therapy as part of their cancer treatment protocol, yet only 1.6% of cancer research funding is in the field of radiation oncology," said lead author Dr. Michael Steinberg in a statement released by ASTRO. "We have a significant disparity in the current level of research support as compared to the relevance of radiation oncology for cancer patients and its highly skilled workforce."

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education lists 87 academic programs in radiation oncology in the U.S., yet only 49.4% have an active research program supported by NIH grants, ASTRO said.


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