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HSCF Funding Blog

What do all great innovations and advancements in society have in common? They need funding, which can mostly be attained from private donors or the federal government. However, what happens when the federal government cuts your funding? That has become the sad reality for one STEM field where woman leaders are desperately needed—endometriosis research. Endometriosis is a disease that causes the uterus lining, the endometrium, to grow outside of the uterus and it affects a known amount of one in ten women. With its prevalence in our society, affecting a known amount of 10% of women around the world, with more than 6 million women in America specifically, why is federal funding continually decreasing? 

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) table titled “Estimates of Funding for Various Research, Condition, and Disease Categories (RCDC)”, endometriosis received $13 million in funding in the totality of the 2019 fiscal year—which ranks it at 257 of 292. In 2021, endometriosis funding is estimated to receive $14 million in funding. In 2021, that number is estimated to go down to $12 million. However, officials at the NIH are quick to say that estimated funding can and will change based on how many researchers are asking for funding in specific categories. So, there must be new applications for endometriosis research funding in order for the estimated $12-14 million to stay that high. There are some estimates that dip as low as $6-7 million in endometriosis research funding for the 2020 fiscal year, which would be the same amount of research funding allocated to allergic rhinitis (hay fever). This means endometriosis research funding can range anywhere in the rankings from 258 to 279 out of 292. And, unfortunately, this applies to many other women’s health issues, such as vulvodynia, vaginal cancer, and pelvic inflammatory disease. 

Awareness of this funding disparity is important because it makes the future of women’s health research so unknown. This is why innovation and creativity in STEM fields is so important. Without new technology and new ways research can be applied, the amount of NIH funding applications will continue to decrease, be overlooked, or denied. Funding for many conditions continues to rapidly increase—one example is the jump in clinical research funding from $15.868 billion in 2019 to an estimated $16.562 billion in 2020—while federal research funding for diseases like endometriosis slowly increase, or begin to decrease. What’s missing in this situation is woman leaders in STEM fields. With the innovation and creation that could come from the great minds of woman STEM leaders, there is no telling where funding levels could go in the future. 


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