Health ROI as a measure of misalignment of biomedical needs and resources

In a recently published letter to Nature Biotechnology, Lixia Yao, IGSB core faculty Andrey Rzhetsky and colleagues dissect the decisions made in funding choices. His team compares these choices by funding agencies to trades in a financial market. In this communication, they expand on the idea that there exists an imbalance between health needs and biomedical research investment.

In order to fairly examine the relationship between biomedical need and biomedical research, they validated a new, insurance based measure of health burden that enables automatic evaluation of burden and research investment for many more diseases than have been previously assessed. Then they developed a new algorithm, the health Research Opportunity Index (ROI) to analyze the data. The ROI parses normalized disease specific variables and calculating disease incidence and comparing funding allocations. A ROI smaller than 0 would indicate that the disease receives more funding than it’s health burden within the measured population; while, a larger overall ROI would suggest that the funding applied to the disease is less than the burden of disease within the measured population.

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