Sources of funding for Nobel Prize work

Athina Tatsioni, Effie Vavva, and John P. A. Ioannidis have an interesting new paper:

Funding is important for scientists’ work and may contribute to exceptional research outcomes. We analyzed the funding sources reported in the landmark scientific papers of Nobel Prize winners. Between 2000 and 2008, 70 Nobel laureates won recognition in medicine, physics, and chemistry. Sixty five (70%) of the 93 selected papers related to the Nobel-awarded work reported some funding source including U.S. government sources in 53 (82%), non-U.S. government sources in 19 (29%), and nongovernment sources in 33 (51%). A substantial portion of this exceptional work was unfunded. We contacted Nobel laureates whose landmark papers reported no funding. Thirteen Nobel laureates responded and offered their insights about the funding process and difficulties inherent in funding. Overall, very diverse sources amounting to a total of 64 different listed sponsors supported Nobel-related work. A few public institutions, in particular the U.S. National Institutes of Health (with n=26 funded papers) and the National Science Foundation (with n=17 papers), stood out for their successful record for funding exceptional research. However, Nobel-level work arose even from completely unfunded research, especially when institutions offered a protected environment for dedicated scientists.

I thank Michelle Dawson for the pointer.


Comments for this post are closed