NIH Spends $1.1 Billion on Diabetes Research -- but Zero for a T1D Practical Cure

September 8, 2022

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) spent $1.1 billion to fund diabetes research in 2021. The NIH is a federal government agency funded by the taxpayers. It is by far the single largest provider of funds for diabetes research in the United States.

In 2021, the NIH directed a record-high $196 million (17% of its total $1.1 Billion budget) to type 1 diabetes research, a double-digit increase from the previous year. While other T1D research-granting organizations reported struggles in funding research and slashed the amount spent to support T1D research grants, the NIH actually increased its T1D research budget. However, most of the T1D budget was used for large society-wide studies or basic research and not for later-stage cure projects.
T1D research money at the NIH is primarily secured by the Special Statutory Funding Program for Type 1 Diabetes Research, also known as the Special Diabetes Program (SDP). Congress established the SDP in 1998 as a dedicated funding stream for research grants to prevent, cure, manage, and reduce complications of T1D. The SDP, and the NIH, are funded by taxpayer dollars and should be representative of their best interests and priorities.

Summary of 2021 NIH Diabetes Grants

•    $1.1 Billion: NIH annual budget for diabetes research in 2021. 
•    $196 Million: amount allocated by the NIH to fund T1D research grants, which was 18% of the total diabetes budget (see Appendix A). 
•    $908 Million: amount allocated by the NIH to fund T2D and general diabetes research, or 80% of the total budget.  
•    $19 Million: amount allocated by the NIH to fund gestational diabetes research, totaling 2% of the entire budget. 
•    The NIH funded zero Practical Cure projects in 2021.  
•    Out of 128 T1D grant recipients, the top 25 grantees received $130 million, 6% of the total NIH T1D funding (see Appendix B). 
•    The top recipient of T1D grants, the University of South Florida, was given $38 million to administer the TEDDY study, a long-term multi-center study  researching the genetic causes of T1D (see Appendix C). 
•    The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 provided SDP funding for fiscal years (FYs) 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021. 

Special Diabetes Program Status

SDP funding is currently surviving on short term extensions. In September 2019, an extension was granted for the fund to continue through 2019. The most recent funding extension was granted through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) on March 28, 2020. $75 million was granted to the program through November 30, 2020. We strongly support the SDP and believe that its multi-year renewal is vital to ensure funding consistency and allow current research to continue while creating opportunities for future long-term research projects. 

Appendix A: NIH Diabetes Research Spending FY2021 (Total:  $1.1 Billion)

Appendix B: Top 15 NIH T1D Organizational Grant Recipients FY2021

Appendix C: Top 10 NIH Funded T1D Grants FY2021