Corporate sponsorship of global health research: Questions to promote critical thinking about potential funding relationships

Ben W. Brisbois, Donald C. Cole, Colleen M. Davison, Erica Di Ruggiero, Lori Hanson, Craig R. Janes, Charles P. Larson, Stephanie Nixon, Katrina Plamondon, Bjorn Stime


Funding options for global health research prominently include grants from corporations, as well as from foundations linked to specific corporations. While such funds can enable urgently-needed research and interventions, they can carry the risk of skewing health research priorities and exacerbating health inequities. With the objective of promoting critical reflection on potential corporate funding options for global health research, we propose a set of three questions developed through an open conference workshop and reflection on experiences of global health researchers and their institutions: 1) Does this funding allow me/us to retain control over research design, methodology and dissemination processes? 2) Does accessing this funding source involve altering my/our research agenda (i.e., what is the impact of this funding source on research priorities)? 3) What are the potential “unintended consequences” of accepting corporate funding, in terms of legitimizing corporations or models of development that are at the root of many global health problems? These questions outline an intentional and cautionary approach to decision-making when corporate funding for global health research is being considered by funding agencies, institutions, researchers and research stakeholders.


Global health; public-private sector cooperation; commerce; governance; capacity building; research

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