Burroughs Wellcome Fund: Grants for Diseases

OVERVIEW: The Burroughs Wellcome Fund broadly funds research in the biomedical sciences. Its main grant making goals are helping scientists in early career development and advancing basic biomedical science. 

IP TAKE: The Burroughs Wellcome Fund emphasizes curiosity-driven research. The majority of large Wellcome grants last several years, and it does not 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. It now distributes grants through a wide range of focus areas, including Biomedical Sciences, Infectious Diseases, Interfaces in Science, Regulatory Science, Reproductive Sciences, Translational Research, Career Guidance, Diversity in Science, Science Education, and Ad Hoc Grants.

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund typically awards disease-related grants 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 Burroughs Wellcome Fund’s grant amounts vary significantly depending on the program. The foundation accepts applications for all of its programs, with Upcoming Deadlines posted online. Grantseekers should review program guidelines carefully, as requirements and deadlines will vary.

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