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Open Access Research article

Impact of funding on biomedical research: a retrospective cohort study

Evelyne Decullier1 and François Chapuis2*

Author Affiliations

1 Clinical Epidemiology Unit; DIM-Hospices Civils de Lyon, Lyon, France

2 Claude Bernard University Lyon 1; RECIF- Hospices Civils de Lyon, 162 av Lacassagne, 69424 Lyon cedex 03, France

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BMC Public Health 2006, 6:165  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-165

Published: 22 June 2006



Public funding is aimed at facilitating the initiation, completion and publication of research study protocols. However, no evaluation is made to investigate the impact of grant success on the conduct of biomedical research. It is therefore of great interest to compare the fate of funded protocols versus not funded: Are they initiated? Are they completed? Did the results confirm the hypothesis? Were they published? The objective was to investigate the fate of protocols submitted for funding, whether they were funded or not.


Retrospective cohort study of protocols submitted for funding to the Greater Lyon regional scientific committee in 1997. Initial characteristics of protocols (design, study size, investigator status) were abstracted from archives, and follow-up characteristics (initiation, completion and publication) from a mailed questionnaire to the principal investigators.


Among the 142 submitted protocols, follow-up information was available for 114 (80%). As a whole, 38% of studies were funded by the Greater Lyon research committee. The rate of initiation varied from 62% for studies with no acknowledged funding to 100% for studies with both committee and other simultaneous funding. When initiated, the rate of completion was 62% for studies with at least one funding and 40% for studies without acknowledged funding. When completed, publication was reached for 77% of studies with either committee or external funding, for 58% of studies without acknowledged funding and for 37% of studies with both committee and external funding.


Some protocols submitted for funding were initiated and completed without any funding declared. To our understanding this mean that not all protocols submitted really needed funding and also that health care facilities are unaware that they implicitly financially support and pay for biomedical research.