Data from IRIS and publications based on them were recently featured in a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) on federal contributions to development of new drugs.

The report, titled “Better Data Will Improve Understanding of Federal Contributions to Drug Development,” ( was created in response to a request from members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Oversight and Responsibility. The senators asked the GAO to review how biomedical R&D funded by the National Institutes of Health contributes to drug development.

Relying partly on data from Universities: Measuring the Impacts of Research on Innovation, Competitiveness, and Science (UMETRICS), the report found that inconsistent reporting of NIH funding in patent applications results in an understatement of the impact of federal funding.

The report cites two published articles that used IRIS data to conclude that “analyses using publicly available NIH data that only identify principal investigators understate the effect of public funding on scientific productivity and innovation. Use of individual-level data for all members of research teams would enable a fuller understanding of the scientific workforce involved in conducting NIH-funded R&D.”

“This study underscores the usefulness of UMETRICS data to improve our understanding of the value of federally supported science,” said IRIS Executive Director Jason Owen-Smith, professor of sociology and Executive Director, Research Analysis and Data Integration Office at the University of Michigan. “It also highlights the importance of widespread university participation in IRIS to better make the case for strong and continued federal science investments.”