Doris Duke Charitable Foundation: Grants for Global Health

OVERVIEW: The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) global health grants support innovations in medical research and improving the structure of healthcare delivery in sub-Saharan Africa.

IP TAKE: Grantseekers can expect much competition when attempting to secure DDCF funding. Its Medical Research grants are awarded through a peer reviewed award process. Many grants support investigators affiliated with large institutions. The same can be said of the foundation’s African Health Initiative grants. 

PROFILE: Doris Duke — the globe-trotting daughter of a wealthy tobacco tycoon — died in 1993 and established a foundation in her will. The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is one of the largest foundations in the United States. Its scope is broad — DDCF awards grants in child abuse prevention, the environment, medical research, building bridges between Muslim and non-Muslim communities, and Africa.

For NGOs working on global health issues in the developing world, Doris Duke's key areas of funding are its African Health Initiative and Medical Research program. The DDCF works toward strengthening health systems, improving primary care, and generally promoting health in sub-Saharan Africa. It does this by awarding grants to nonprofits engaged in diverse African health initiatives, which include the Population Health Implementation and Training programs (PHIT). 

PHIT is a major financial priority for Doris Duke, and its partnerships are massive undertakings. PHIT grants range from $8 million to $15 million each, and they serve to transform (or, in some cases, introduce) entire healthcare systems in regions of sub-Saharan Africa that are populous (even sparsely inhabited rural areas count as populous if they're large enough) but lacking in healthcare resources.

Grantees typically consist of  U.S. and African NGOs working together with health ministries and local governments. Each PHIT grant delivers health care, and improves surrounding healthcare systems, for 300,000 to 1 million-plus people. The tactics employed by PHIT grants vary somewhat by location, since each grant focuses on different region-specific health issues. The point of all PHIT grants, however, is the same: to target and strengthen regional health systems so they are sustainable after the life of the grant, and to use data in order to track what works and does not work along the way. DDCF has ongoing PHIT partner projects in RwandaZambiaMozambiqueTanzania, and Ghana.

DDCF's Medical Research program seeks to “advance the translation of biomedical discoveries into applications that improve human health through the support of clinical research.” For the DDCF, clinical research is "the scientific investigation of the etiology, prevention, diagnosis or treatment of human disease using human subjects, human populations or materials of human origin. Included in the definition are studies that utilize tissues or pathogens only if they can be linked to a patient." Through its Medical Research program, the DDCF seeks to encourage and develop the careers of clinical researchers, and to advance biomedical research and innovation. Additionally, its Clinical Research Awards are meant to catalyze breakthroughs and discoveries in “targeted disease areas.”

To gain a better understanding of the global health organizations DDCF typically supports, explore its in-depth grantee database

DDCF does not currently accept unsolicited requests for funding for its African Health Initiative. However, the foundation occasionally announces open calls for LOIs for its PHIT Partnership Program and its Medical Research program. 

PEOPLE: 

  • Betsy Myers, Program Director, Medical Research
  • Sindy Escobar-Alvarez, Program Officer, Medical Research
  • Lola Adedokun, Director, African Health Initiative 

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