RCDC Shares Spending Estimates and Disease Burden by Category

Funding News Edition: September 15, 2021
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Colorized scanning electron micrograph of a cell infected with a variant strain of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles (UK B.1.1.7), isolated from a patient sample.

RCDC's category-based approach helps the public and policymakers understand how the NIH research portfolio relates to public health needs.

Credit: NIAID

Researchers, NIH staff, legislators, and members of the public—you can check the latest NIH Estimates of Funding for Various Research, Condition, and Disease Categories (RCDC) data for insights on your biomedical areas of interest.

This article provides an overview of RCDC, categories, steps to explore RCDC data, and more.

What Is RCDC?

RCDC has been a vital component of NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT) since January 2009. Through its computerized processes, RCDC reports two types of data for each NIH research area:

  • NIH’s annual spending on extramural and intramural grants, contracts, and other funding mechanisms, with links to project lists and details
  • Disease burden data on mortality and prevalence

NIH’s most recent RCDC update was on June 25, 2021. It included estimates for fiscal year (FY) 2021 and FY 2022 based on NIH’s latest data, plus historical data for FY 2008 through FY 2020. Table rows correspond to 299 different scientific areas of NIH-funded research by category.

Categorization Is Key

For consistent and transparent reporting year after year, RCDC uses standard NIH-wide definitions for each research category. The category list includes:

  • Research areas such as infectious diseases and organ transplantation
  • Diseases such as HIV/AIDS, influenza, and coronaviruses
  • Conditions such as food allergies

To match projects with relevant categories, RCDC uses sophisticated text data mining (categorizing and clustering using words and multiword phrases) and NIH-wide definitions. NIH scientific experts select the lists of terms and concepts that define each category.  

Explore RCDC Funding Data

As a working example to familiarize you with the RCDC interface, suppose you want to find NIH funding data on coronaviruses. This broad category includes viruses within the coronavirus family (e.g., rhinoviruses (common cold), CoV-2) and diseases caused by coronaviruses (e.g., SARS, MERS, COVID-19).

Start with these steps:

  1. Go to RCDC and scroll past the graph to the top of the Estimates of Funding table.
  2. Just above the table, in the field labeled “Filter Research/Disease Areas,” type “coronaviruses.” This step filters the table to display only that category row.
  3. Select or click the word “Coronaviruses” in the first column of the table, which updates the graph to display coronavirus funding.

The illustration below shows the resulting interface.

Screenshot shows funding estimate data for coronaviruses within RCDC interface.
Credit: NIAID

The coronaviruses row provides a small “28” link to a footnote, then three columns of research funding data. To summarize the footnote and data:

  • RCDC added the coronaviruses category in FY 2020, so the columns reflect FY 2020 through FY 2022.
  • FY 2020’s $2,355 million includes obligations from FY 2020 COVID-19-related emergency supplemental appropriations to NIH as well as funding from FY 2020 annual appropriations.
  • FY 2021 ($2,477 million) and FY 2022 ($1,491 million) estimates reflect how NIH expects to use carryover funds from FY 2020 COVID-19 supplemental accounts plus support of research activities from annual appropriations.

Note that the totals in RCDC are likely to differ from amounts shown in other NIH funding reports because NIH does not expressly budget by RCDC category and awards often fit multiple categories. The annual RCDC estimates reflect amounts that change as a result of science, actual research projects funded, and the NIH budget.

Next, focus on the FY 2020 column of the coronaviruses row. Follow the “$2,355” link to a complete list of all 1,776 NIH-funded coronavirus projects in FY 2020. The project list features:

  • An “Export” button so you can download list data in Excel spreadsheet format
  • Columns to identify the funding institute or center, project number, title, investigator name, organization, location, and amount

Lastly, you can select any linked project number (e.g., 3U19AI142733) for details such as the abstract, publications, and much more. Try the “Share” button on the project page, too.

Check Mortality and Prevalence Data

Using the same research area categories described above, RCDC shares FY 2018 U.S. disease burden data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) at CDC. The category-based approach helps the public and policymakers understand how the NIH research portfolio relates to public health needs.

Mortality and Prevalence Data on NIH’s Categorical Spending Page further describes RCDC’s data sources, answers common questions, and explains why some categories do not include prevalence data. (For example, the coronaviruses category is too broad. If you prefer, you can find prevalence data specific to COVID-19 in CDC’s COVID Data Tracker instead.)

Use these RCDC interface steps to check disease burden data:

  1. Reload the RCDC page or clear any filters so the table shows the full list of categories.
  2. Find U.S. mortality and prevalence data in the two far right columns.
  3. Select either column header once or twice to change the table’s sort order. This brings mortality or prevalence data to the top of the table.

RCDC Links, Email, and Request for Information

For more background, consult the description at the top of the RCDC page, Overview of RCDC, and RCDC Frequently Asked Questions. NIAID’s guide on how to find Funded Projects and More Using NIH Databases also includes RCDC.

Contact rcdc@mail.nih.gov with questions or comments on RCDC.

On a broader note, NIH invites you to share your feedback about RCDC, RePORTER, and other NIH, federal, or public scientific data systems. Respond to the Request for Information (RFI) on User Experience With Scientific Data Sources and Tools through the SurveyMonkey Form by October 15, 2021.

Contact Us

Email us at deaweb@niaid.nih.gov for help navigating NIAID’s grant and contract policies and procedures.

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