Institute for Frontier Life and Medical Sciences, Kyoto University

Which infectious diseases are “neglected” by researchers?

Yuki Furuse1,2

(1 Institute for Frontier Life and Medical Sciences, Kyoto University, 2 Hakubi Center for Advanced Research, Kyoto University)

“Analysis of research intensity on infectious disease by disease burden reveals which infectious diseases are neglected by researchers”

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A (2018) doi: 10.1073/pnas.1814484116


Infectious diseases are associated with considerable morbidity and mortality worldwide. Threats from emerging and reemerging infectious diseases have increased globally. However, neglected tropical diseases, such as Chagas disease and schistosomiasis, are believed to attract low attention.

We investigated which infectious diseases have been neglected by researchers and which have received attention through an analysis of global disease burden and research activity.

We found, for example, that influenza, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, and tuberculosis have attracted high research attention in relation to their disease burden, while paratyphoid fever has attracted low attention considering the disease burden. Interestingly, not all so-called neglected tropical diseases were subject to low research intensity. Indeed, the research intensity for widely recognized neglected tropical diseases, such as Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, and leprosy, was high in countries affected by the diseases, with a reasonably high number of publications from nonaffected countries. Further discussion must occur with regard to the appropriate allocation of resources for research into infectious diseases. That would help develop more effective strategy to control infectious diseases.