These eleven organizations are known for their charitable contributions to life-sci researchers and their institutions.

Years of yo-yo federal budgets, as well as actual or threatened across-the-board spending cuts or sequestration have made more than a few researchers nervous about relying on NIH for their research grant funding. For a few fortunate researchers, however, an alternative to Washington has emerged among charitable funds and foundations that devote at least a portion of their grant funds to projects in the life sciences.

Following is a list of 11 charitable funds and foundations, unranked and listed in alphabetical order, that fund life sciences research in more than a single disease, and that are known primarily for their charitable contributions to life-sci researchers and their institutions, as reflected in grants and other awards.

Each fund or foundation is listed by most recent year of data availability in all categories sought; total grants paid out that year; a breakdown of that grant activity by disease, program, or anecdotal example cited in public materials; a total approved grant amount where available; total expense and revenue; and location of their headquarters. Financial figures come from an institution’s annual report or audited financial statement, except where otherwise indicated, such as through tax returns.

The funds and foundations listed are among top examples as established from publicly available sources, including a “Foundations and Other Funding Sources” list maintained by NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, but do not constitute a list of all funds and foundations.


Burroughs Wellcome Fund 1

2013, Fiscal Year Ending Aug. 31

Total Grants Paid: $28.408 million, including:

  • $7.890 million for Biomedical Sciences
  • $5.533 million for Infectious Diseases
  • $5.166 million for Interfaces in Science2
  • $3.640 million for Translational Research
  • $750,000 for Reproductive Sciences

Total Grants Awarded Net of Cancelled: $35.709 million
Total Expenses: $42.479 million3
Total Revenues and Realized Gains: $49.893 million
Headquarters: Research Triangle Park, NC


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

2013 Calendar Year

Total Grants Paid: $3.208 billion, including $1.779 billion for Global Development initiatives and $1.088 billion for Global Health initiatives4, of which:

  • $426.960 million (24% of Global Development) for Polio
  • $338.010 million (19% of Global Development) for Vaccine Delivery
  • $228.480 million (21% of Global Health) for HIV/AIDS
  • $184.960 million (17% of Global Health) for Malaria
  • $124.530 million (7% of Global Development) for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health
  • $152.320 million (14% of Global Health) for Tuberculosis
  • $124.53 million (7% of Global Development) for Family Planning
  • $108.800 million (10% of Global Health) for Enteric and Diarrheal Diseases
  • $108.800 million (10% of Global Health) for Neglected and Other Infectious Diseases
  • $108.800 million (10% of Global Health) for Pneumonia
  • $87.040 million (8% of Global Health) for Discovery Cross-cutting
  • $53.661 million (3% of Global Development) for Nutrition
  • $43.520 million (4% of Global Health) for Integrated Development
  • $21.760 million (2% of Global Health) for Vaccine Development
  • $10.880 million (1% of Global Health) for Life Sciences Partnerships
  • $10.880 million (1% of Global Health) for Special initiatives

Total Expenses: $4.209 billion
Total revenues and gains: $9.532 billion


Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF)5

2013 Calendar Year

Total Grants Paid: $61.616 million, of which $13.102 million went for Medical Research projects, including6:

  • $7.78 million over three years in Clinical Scientist Development Awards to 16 junior physician-scientists ($486,000 each) to support their transition from mentored to independent clinical research careers
  • $4.86 million over 3 years to 10 sickle cell disease projects ($486,000 each) “that have the potential to catalyze innovative breakthroughs in sickle cell disease.”
  • $648,000 over one year to 10 teams ($64,800 each) of DDCF-funded investigators and medical students with an interest in becoming future clinician investigators, to support one-year research projects.

Another $54.653 million in grants were approved 2013 for future payment, of which $6.966 million was approved for Medical research projects.

Total Grants Approved: $81.408 million, of which $14.294 million was for Medical Research projects
Total Expenses and Disbursements: $123.327 million
Total Revenues: $88.099 million
Headquarters: New York, NY 


Dr. Miriam & Sheldon G. Adelson Medical Research Foundation7

2012 Calendar Year

Total Medical Research Grants Paid during the Year: $22.754 million, including8:

  • $1.212 million to Dana Farber Cancer Institute
  • $1.083 million to Children’s Hospital Trust
  • $1.009 million to Tel Aviv University
  • $1.000 million to The Rockefeller University 

Total Medical Research Grants Approved for Future Payment: $23.781 million
Total Expenses and Disbursements: $24.014 million
Total revenue: $24.943 million
Headquarters: Needham, MA


The Lawrence Ellison Foundation (formerly The Ellison Medical Foundation)

2012 Calendar Year

Net Grants Paid: $46.418 million9, including:

  • $25.012 million through Senior Scholars in Aging award program
  • $9.895 million through New Scholars in Aging award program
  • $123,970 to institutional awardees through Aging Conferences awards program
  • $1.216 million through Senior Scholars in Neuroscience awards program
  • $2.668 million to institutional awardees through other aging awards programs
  • $2.114 million to institutional awardees through Other Neuroscience Awards programs

Total Future Grant Payments Approved: $61.914 million
Total Expenses and Disbursements: $48.903 million
Total Revenue: $45.802 million
Headquarters: Mount Airy, MD


Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

2013 Calendar Year

Grants to principal recipients: $3.199 billion, including:

  • $1.693 billion for HIV/AIDS
  • $858 million for Malaria
  • $588 million for Tuberculosis

Total Expenditure: $3.599 billion
Total Income: $5.148 billion
Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland


Howard Hughes Medical Institute

2013 Fiscal Year, Ending Aug. 31

Total Disbursements, Scientific Research and Lab Construction: $727 million, including:

  • $80 million toward science education
  • $25 million toward international research

Total Medical Research Program Expense: $747.740 million
Total Expenses: $956.994 million
Total Revenues: $2.077 billion
Headquarters: Chevy Chase, MD, with Janelia Farm Research Campus in Ashburn, VA


PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health)10

2012 Calendar Year

Total Program Services Expenses: $233.757 million, including:

  • $93.084 million, including grants of $27.964 million, for Emerging and epidemic diseases
  • $85.484 million, including grants of $30.775 million, for Vaccines and Immunizations
  • $23.846 million, including grants of $4.291 million, for Health Technologies
  • $15.407 million, including grants of $2.240 million, for Maternal and Child Health
  • $11.684 million, including grants of $3.460 million, for Reproductive Health
  • $4.252 million, including grants of $1.668 million for Cross-Program Impact Initiatives11

2012 Total Expenses: $274.347 million
2012 Total Revenues: $174.981 million
Headquarters: Seattle, WA


Simons Foundation

2013 Calendar Year

Total Grants Paid: $178.890 million12, including:

  • $42.522 million (23.77%) — Autism
  • $41.288 million (23.08%) — Life Sciences

Total Expenses: $143.445 million
Total Revenue: $295.626 million
Headquarters: New York, NY


Wellcome Trust13

2013 Fiscal Year, Ended Sept. 30

Grants Awarded: £640.0 million ($1.007 billion), including:

  • £463.5 million ($729.3 million) for Science Funding
  • £102.2 million ($160.8 million) for Wellcome Trust Genome Campus
  • £52.9 million ($83.2 million) for Technology Transfer
  • £21.4 million ($33.7 million) for Medical Humanities and Engagement

Total “Charitable Activities” Funding Commitment: £772.9 million ($1.226 billion)
Total Resources Expended: £872.3 million ($1.372 billion)
Total Incoming Resources: £281.5 million ($442.9 million)
Headquarters: London, UK


William J. Clinton Foundation

2013 Calendar Year

Total Expenses, Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI): $106.491 million, including:

  • $29.686 million for HIV/AIDS and TB14
  • $22.311 million, including $1.422 million in grants, for Global Health Spending15
  • $18.324 million, including $3.722 million in grants, for Maternal and Child Health16
  • $10.631 million, including $221,987 in grants, for accelerating rollout of new Vaccines
  • $5.882 million, including $180,958 in grants, for increasing access to high-quality treatment for Malaria

Total Expenses, Foundation: $222.621 million
Total Revenues and Support, Foundation: $294.741 million
Headquarters: New York, NY































1 Figures from foundation’s Program Summary, August 31, 2013
2 Interfaces in Science grants are for “young investigators with backgrounds in the physical, chemical, computational sciences, and engineering whose work addresses biological questions and who are dedicated to pursuing a career in academic research.”
3 Total expenses before net unrealized appreciation and deferred federal excise tax
4 Numbers include grants and direct charitable expenses (DCE), but do not include Program-Related Investments (PRIs).
5 Source for most information is DDCF’s Form 990 for 2013
6 Information on grant winners can be found in the Form 990 as well as in the “Grants Awarded” section of DDCF website.
7 Source for figures is foundation’s Form 990-PF.
8 The foundation funds medical research in cancer (core cancer and melanoma), inflammatory bowel disease, neural repair and rehabilitation, and the ubiquitin proteasome pathway. No breakdown was furnished in publicly-available materials on how much in grants were awarded in each disease area. The Form 990-PF lists each paid and approved grant by institutional grantee, without detailing the research being funded.
9 Figures disclosed in Form 990-PF tax return for 2011, available through GuideStar. Net Grants Paid equals Total Grants Paid, 2012, of $46.529 million, less Returned Grant Monies, 2012, of $109.996 million
10 Figures from Form 990 for calendar year 2012.
11 According to PATH’s Form 990, Cross-Program initiatives are “related to priority health areas. Including maternal and neonatal health technologies, diarrheal disease, and pneumonia. Future priority health areas will include malaria and family planning.”
12 The foundation furnishes percentages, which were multiplied by the “Grants Paid” expense figure also provided to produce the category spending results.
13 The gap between total resources expended and total incoming resources was more than recouped by gains on investments and actuarial gains on defined-benefit pension plans, resulting in an £891.3 million ($1.3 billion) gain in the fund Figures converted to USD via www.xe.com on May 23, 2013
14 CHAI was formed to fight HIV/AIDS, but has expanded its efforts to other diseases. The HIV/AIDS figures come from CHAI’s Form 990 for 2013, and include figures for TB.
15 CHAI’s Global Health Spending initiative is designed to “increase the efficiency and effectiveness of global health spending to move towards more sustainable financing systems and reduce financial barriers preventing access to essential health services.”  
16 CHAI’s Maternal and Child Health efforts are intended to “resolve the systemic weaknesses that undermine the coverage and quality of interventions proven to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality” through interventions that include “emergency obstetric care and the increased use and support of midwives.”

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