Burroughs Wellcome Fund: Grants for Disease

OVERVIEW: The Burroughs Wellcome Fund admittedly has a pretty broad goal of advancing biomedical sciences, however it focuses its main grant making goals on helping scientists in early career development and advancing files of basic biomedical sciences. 

IP TAKE: The Burroughs Wellcome Fund emphasizes curiosity-driven research. The majority of large Wellcome grants are of the multi-year variety and it doesn’t award a large number of grants out of each of its programs each year. Grantseekers should anticipate a good deal of competition for grant money from the fund.

PROFILE: With roots in 19th-century England, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund was established in the U.S. in 1955, as an outgrowth of the successful philanthropy the pharmaceutical company had begun in England. It was affiliated for decades with Henry Wellcome's drug enterprise, until a generous gift from the Wellcome Trust (in the U.K.) enabled it to become independent from the business in 1993. Wellcome's business was later sold to GlaxoSmithKline. 

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund operates a variety of successful grantmaking programs across a wide range of biomedical interests. The fund’s disease related grants are typically awarded out of the following programs:

  • Biomedical Sciences: The fund offers career awards and travel funds for early career biomedical scientists.
  • Infectious Diseases: The fund primary focus here is on “…human-pathogen interactions in these infectious diseases.” Wellcome awards $500,000 over five years to researchers studying pathogenesis, focusing on the interaction between human and microbial biology.
  • Interfaces in Science: The fund offers career awards for researchers with backgrounds in physical, chemical or computational science who are addressing biological topics.
  • Regulatory Science: This program awards grants for up to $500,000 over five years for studying regulatory science informing how medical regulatory decisions are made.
  • Reproductive Sciences: This program awards grants toward research into the causes and developing a better understanding of biological conditions that lead to spontaneous preterm births in the United States. The fund awards four-year, $150,000 grants up to a $600,000 maximum award amount. 
  • Translational Research: The fund provides career awards for scientists undertaking translational research.

The various awards offered within these programs are listed here, along with details about application procedures. Grantseekers should pay close attention to the deadlines for the programs to which they are applying, as they vary depending on the program. Full proposals submissions are made by invitation only.


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