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Volume 25, Number 10—October 2019

Databases for Research and Development

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I welcome the findings of Mehand et al. in putting together a methodology that can prioritize emerging infectious diseases in need of research and development (1). These approaches are vital in establishing how global research funders and research institutions can best contribute to establishing a knowledge base around what diseases to address and how.

There is also a distinct need to understand ongoing research portfolios at international and national levels. The data emerging from these projects can provide further knowledge and impact in health policy and inform further research priorities.

Our ongoing project involves the Research Investments in Global Health (ResIn) study. ResIn has described research portfolios for cancer and infectious disease research in the United Kingdom (2,3). Internationally, the study has covered investments into global pneumonia research (4) and malaria research across Africa (5). Findings have examined, for example, the burden of disease alongside levels of investment, as well as providing informed comment on research gaps. ResIn also considers how best to implement findings from a research database into health policy and practice, and has presented results and sought opinion from meetings with key stakeholders, including the World Health Organization (WHO), European Commission, and Wellcome Trust.

I encourage WHO and other stakeholders to consider an open-access global research investments portfolio for all areas of health, using open datasets to describe spending on research alongside other areas, such as burden of disease. Alongside the WHO R&D Blueprint (, this resource can support decision-making around research knowledge and innovation.


Michael G. HeadComments to Author 
Author affiliation: University of Southampton, Hampshire, UK



  1. Mehand  MS, Millett  P, Al-Shorbaji  F, Roth  C, Kieny  MP, Murgue  B. World Health Organization methodology to prioritize emerging infectious diseases in need of research and development. Emerg Infect Dis. 2018;24:24. DOIPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Maruthappu  M, Head  MG, Zhou  CD, Gilbert  BJ, El-Harasis  MA, Raine  R, et al. Investments in cancer research awarded to UK institutions and the global burden of cancer 2000-2013: a systematic analysis. BMJ Open. 2017;7:e013936. DOIPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Head  MG, Fitchett  JR, Nageshwaran  V, Kumari  N, Hayward  A, Atun  R. Research investments in global health: a systematic analysis of UK infectious disease research funding and global health metrics, 1997–2013. EBioMedicine. 2015;3:18090. DOIPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Brown  RJ, Head  MG. Sizing up pneumonia research. Southampton (United Kingdom): University of Southampton; 2018 [cited 2019 Aug 3].
  5. Head  MG, Goss  S, Gelister  Y, Alegana  V, Brown  RJ, Clarke  SC, et al. Global funding trends for malaria research in sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic analysis. Lancet Glob Health. 2017;5:e77281. DOIPubMedGoogle Scholar


Cite This Article

DOI: 10.3201/eid2510.181411

Original Publication Date: August 30, 2019

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Please use the form below to submit correspondence to the authors or contact them at the following address:

Michael G. Head, University of Southampton, Clinical Informatics Research Unit, Faculty of Medicine, Coxford Road, University Hospital, Southampton, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK

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Page created: September 17, 2019
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The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.