How the Broad Foundation is Getting a Big Bang for its IBD Buck

The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation has provided UCLA more than $600,000 in inflammatory bowel disease research grants, and nearly $6 million in institutional support since 2003. Now, it’s stepping up its support in a big way.

Last Thursday, UCLA announced receipt of a $4 million research grant from the Broad Foundation: $2 million for stem cell research being conducted at the university, and $2 million for studying inflammatory bowel disease. Though it’s far from glamorous, research into this mystifying and all-too-common malady has long been one of Broad’s top biomedical priorities.

IBD is a complex mix of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis that can be downright miserable even in the mildest cases, and can lead to death in more severe cases. And almost nobody else is funding IBD research and human trials the way Broad has been for the past ten years. As of now, the Broad Foundation is actually funding a whopping 40 percent of IBD research nationwide. The best explanation for Broad's increased support to UCLA’s program is the undeniable allure of an absolutely stellar ROI.

While the BMRP has been doling out $600,000 in research grants, the Broad Foundation proper has been quietly underwriting UCLA’s Division of Digestive Diseases, which has received nearly $6 million since 2003. With that support, the DDD has gone on to develop a research and clinical center focused on the comprehensive treatment of IBD, one of only a handful in the whole world.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this kind of partnership—the kind where Broad supplies the bucks, and UCLA uses the support to do something world-class—would be appealing to just about any funder. But for Broad, which seems to have found a niche where it can be a big, successful fish in a small pond, this type of partnership, and the PR that comes with it, may be extra compelling.