Reading Sponsor Network Diagrams

Sponsor network diagrams are designed to give you a general sense of the funding networks that make up clinical research for a specific drug product or clinical condition. The diagrams detail the sponsors of clinical trials registered with

  • Each black node (dot) represents one registered clinical trial that listed a given product as one of the evaluated interventions or a given disease as one of the target conditions.
  • Each colored node is an entity that sponsored at least one of the trials. The nodes are color coded by type per the legend. Many blue dots ("other") are universities and hospitals. Some are private individuals or philanthropic foundations.
  • The larger the node, the more trials it sponsored.
  • The more central the node, the more important it is to the overall research network for that drug.
  • Each articulation (line) in the network diagram represents a line of funding for each clinical trial.

The overall shape and distribution of sponsor network diagrams can tell us a lot about the state of current research on a given drug or for a given condition. For example, we can determine quite quickly if research on a given product or condition is 1) dominated by a single company, 2) the beneficiary of large amounts of federal funding, or 3) the product of a diverse array of collaborations. Below are a few examples.

The research and funding landscape for streptococcal infections is dominated primarily by a single company.

The Fluticasone sponsor network is also industry dominated, but with many non-industry partners.

Citalopram's sponsor network is marked by a balance of federal and industry funding as well as many partner agreements.

There are very few registered clinical trials for forehead wrinkles, and only two companies have sponsored those trials.

Research on breast cancer is marked by a very large number of registered clinical trials and many different sponsors.

US federal agencies are central to trial funding for Polyethylene Glycol 3350 even as the largest proportion of trials are sponsored by industry.