The United States enjoys a unique position among the world community in a number of respects. Although it is not the largest or most populated country in the world, the United States is considered one of the wealthiest. Our significant national wealth affords us with some interesting opportunities. In particular, it allows us to devote a portion of those resources towards causes that we as a nation feel are worthy and significant. For example, such causes include charitable aid programs, in the name of promoting global economic development and world peace. The United States leads in this category as well, donating an annual $27.5 billion in unrestricted charitable foreign aid to promote international economic development through the Office of Development Assistance of the United Nations. Private philanthropy from the United States is even greater, with an estimated $71 billion being given in 2004 from private individuals, foundations, churches, and other organizations. In total, nearly one percent of our national income is given away to individuals, groups, and countries in need around the world. Another one of the ways in which we have chosen to spend (or invest - depending on one's perspective) a portion of our national wealth is in the area of research. Such research covers a broad range of areas, including medical research, technology development, space-related research, material sciences, and a host of other activities. The funding provided to conduct this research comes from both public and private sources. We invest heavily as a nation in government sponsored research across a range of areas. One area in particular rises above the rest in terms of committed resources - medical research. Note that this funding is provided almost entirely to not-for-profit entities, such as colleges, universities, and research institutions, and is distinct from the funding provided by the private sector.
Gil Van Bokkelen, The Role of the Federal Government in Overseeing Medical Research, 20 J.L. & Health 299 (2006-2007)