available to indicate either past levels of support or changes in distribution, but some OB/GYN department chairs feel that the pharmaceutical industry has become a more significant source.2 There are also indications that private foundation support, which played an important role in stimulating research in departments of OB/GYN in the past, has diminished in recent years.

The Role of Foundations

According to an inventory of private agencies that contribute to population research,* a small number of foundations—the Ford, Rockefeller, and Andrew W. Mellon foundations—have for years dominated the private funding scene. The Hewlett Foundation, created in 1966, entered the inventory in 1985. The Population Council, which is included in the inventory, is itself a research organization that solicits funds to support its work. However, it also supports investigators—mainly overseas—who collaborate with the council in fertility and contraception work.**

Between 1976 and 1985, several trends in foundation support were notable. Reproductive processes and contraceptive development both lost ground, losing 34 percent and 6 percent in funds, respectively. There was also a large shift of funds to the social and behavioral sciences (a gain of 224 percent) and smaller but nevertheless substantial gains for contraceptive evaluation (184 percent) and population research centers (98 percent).3 These trends suggest that OB/GYN departments may have been losers, since the largest gains appear in areas in


 The term population research is not synonymous with the research activities appropriate to departments of OB/GYN. In the following discussion it is defined as "studies of the nature, determinants, and consequences of population characteristics and dynamics and the development of basic data and methods for such population analysis. Physical, biological, psychological, cultural, social, economic, geographic, historical and political factors may all be included in population studies" (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, Public Health Service, Inventory and Analysis of Federal Population Research, Fiscal Year 1988, Washington, D.C., 1990). Many population research projects are conducted in departments other than OB/GYN. Moreover, OB/GYN departments receive research support from foundations that are not included in the inventory. Nevertheless, this inventory is the best available indicator of trends in foundation support for the areas of science undertaken by departments of OB/GYN.


The Population Council was a major grant-giving organization in the 1950s and early 1960s. There tier it became mainly a research organization funded by foundations, NIH, and other government agencies in the same way that other research organizations and universities are funded.

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