Where Burroughs Wellcome Fund is Sending $21M in Awards

The biological products of snakes may hold potential for diabetics. And a better understanding of how the placebo effect manifests would make drug development trials far less expensive. These are just two of the topics that earned 48 researchers the latest competitive grants from Burroughs Wellcome Fund. 

Burroughs Wellcome is a North Carolina-based biomedical research funder that gives to science education, early career scientists working in disease research and a handful of other underfunded niche fields. Almost all of the foundation’s giving is in the form of competitive research awards, and the latest round of funding gave out $21 million in four of its categories. 

The four programs that just gave out grants cover: 

  • Awards for medical research scientists, for postdoctoral training ($700,000 each); 
  • Research on pathogenesis of infectious disease, studying the intersection of human and microbial science ($500,000 each); 
  • Awards for underrepresented minority postdoctoral fellows ($60,000 each); and 
  • Awards “at the Scientific Interface,” for physics, engineering, math, chemistry and computational science researchers studying biological questions ($500,000 each).

As you can see, the foundation is focused largely on the crossover of disciplines to benefit biomedical research, as well as strengthening the overall field of medical research. A whopping 12 grantees won funds in each category, but that's still less than 10 percent of the nominees. 

Most of the foundation’s awards run through eligible research institutions, with deans and department heads making nominations and administering the grants, but a foundation advisory committee interviewing finalists. 

Here's a sampling of the winners from the latest round:

  • Amit Choudhary of the Broad Institute received $500,000 for the work mentioned above, on snakes, antioxidants and diabetes. His research focuses on “bioprospecting snakes’ natural products to enhance human organ function."
  • Also noted above, Ariana Anderson of UCLA won the same amount for work on detecting and measuring the placebo effect to improve clinical drug trials.
  • Matthias Marti of Harvard also won half a million for work on cellular communication in malaria parasites. 
  • Daniel B. Stetson of the University of Washington was awarded $500,000 for research on why DNA viruses cause cancer.

The funder is a spinoff philanthropy of the American branch of Burroughs Wellcome Co., a UK-based drug company that was absorbed by GlaxoSmithKline in the 1990s. Today, the funder is independent of corporate sponsorship, but still gives in the fields of biomedical research, continuing its legacy. Along with these four awards programs, funding includes work to improve drug regulations, and to better our understanding of preterm birth. 

Read the full list of latest grantees here, and to learn more about this funder’s competitive grant programs, we present a lovely suite of full IP profiles:

Burroughs Wellcome Fund: Grants for Science Research

Burroughs Wellcome Fund: Grants for Disease

Burroughs Wellcome Fund: Grants for Science Education