So it gets interesting to see what does get funded. NIH has a great website where you can find out how they spend their money. I came across it when doing a study on the amount of funding going to research on different neurodevelopmental disorders. I revisited the site recently to look in more detail at the kinds of study that get funded in this general area, and I had a bit of a surprise. There were huge sums of money going to something called the National Children’s Study. I added them up and they came to around $500 million.
* Update on 2nd July 2011. I've now got a couple of estimates from researchers involved in the Danish study and both indicate a total cost since 1994 of less than $US 20 million. That is around 1/10th the cost of the National Children's Study just for one year, 2010. The Danish researchers make the point that the study benefits from the existence of national registers that minimize costs of case-finding, and that already contain much relevant information.
Kaiser, J. (2004). NIH Launches Controversial Long-Term Study of 100,000 U.S. Kids Science, 306 (5703), 1883-1883 DOI: 10.1126/science.306.5703.1883
Magnus, P., Irgens, L., Haug, K., Nystad, W., Skjaerven, R., Stoltenberg, C., & , . (2006). Cohort profile: The Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) International Journal of Epidemiology, 35 (5), 1146-1150 DOI: 10.1093/ije/dyl170
Olsen, J., Melbye, M., Olsen, S., Sorensen, T., Aaby, P., Nybo Andersen, A., Taxbol, D., Hansen, K., Juhl, M., Schow, T., Sorensen, H., Andresen, J., Mortensen, E., Wind Olesen, A., & Sondergaard, C. (2001). The Danish National Birth Cohort - its background, structure and aim Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 29 (4), 300-307 DOI: 10.1177/14034948010290040201
Paneth, N. (2010). Saving the National Childrenʼs Study From Its Saviors Epidemiology, 21 (5), 602-604 DOI: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e3181ea5f89
Savitz, D., & Ness, R. (2010). Saving the National Childrenʼs Study Epidemiology, 21 (5), 598-601 DOI: 10.1097/EDE.0b013e3181e942cc