Where's the Rainin Foundation Going With Its Work on Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

There are a few funders across the country that budget for a large number of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) grants, namely the Broad Foundations, Pfizer Inc., and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. However, a lesser-known grantmaking force has emerged and has already begun to make waves in the realm of IBD research. Although the Rainin Foundation overall grantmaking has been relatively modest (less than $3 million in 2012), it is growing fast in terms of both assets and support staff (Read: How the Kenneth Rainin Foundation Is Stepping up Its Game).

The Rainin Foundation is quickly becoming one of the nation’s leaders in advancing IBD research and providing funding to cure IBD. In fact, the foundation’s health grantmaking program is squarely focused on IBD and nothing else. Let’s take a look at how Rainin is tackling IBD:

  • Innovator Awards Program: To attract new researchers and encourage expert collaboration, Rainin provides $100,000 grants for one-year proof of principle research projects. The foundation looks for projects aimed at diagnosing, treating, and curing IBD, and the program is open to researchers at all levels and from any scientific discipline. Private foundations are ineligible; however, Rainin will award these grants to tenure track professors, public agencies, and independent projects with a qualified tax-exempt fiscal sponsor. Letters of Inquiry are accepted each year between January 15 and February 15.
  • Breakthrough Awards Program: If you’ve already won a Rainin Innovator Award, then you may be able to get a Breakthrough Award next. Rainin provides long-term support for previous grantees who demonstrate excellent progress in validating an original hypothesis. To be eligible, grantees must provide a written scientific progress report and an oral presentation to the foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board.  You can’t apply for these awards, however, as the Board evaluates and chooses between existing Innovator Award grantees at the end of the funding year.

During his lifetime, Kenneth Rainin donated millions of dollars to IBD research at the University of California, San Francisco. Today, the foundation hosts an annual Innovations Symposium that a diverse body of scientific leaders together to inspire IBD innovations. This year’s symposium takes place July 15-16 at the Union Square Marriott in San Francisco.

Starting this year, Rainin is offering a brand new grant opportunity for symposium attendees, the Synergy Award. To encourage multi-disciplinary scientific collaboration, the foundation will provide $100,000 in research support for one year to each investigator on the team, up to a total of $300,000.

Our hunch is that Rainin plans other new initiatives to take on IBD as part of a larger push to expand the foundation's grantmaking. Why? Because they just hired a new health program officer, Jackie Hausman, who comes to the foundation from UC Davis with a background in public health and who brings experience in innovative technology applications for delivering healthcare. Is Rainin's IBD work going to move beyond support for high-level research to new activities working with IBD sufferers? We'll be interested to see. 

General questions about the Rainin’s IBD-exclusive health program can be directed to the program staff at health@krfoundation.org