Sontag Foundation: Grants for Diseases

OVERVIEW: Partnering with the Arthritis National Research Foundation, the main form of disease grantmaking at the Sontag Foundation is its $75,000 award to one promising scientist per year who is working on rheumatoid arthritis breakthroughs. One other small area of funding for Sontag in this space is cancer research.

IP TAKE: It's all about impact at Sontag. The foundation wants to see projects with tremendous potential to improve peoples' lives.

PROFILE: Since 2001, the Sontag Foundation has partnered with the Arthritis National Research Foundation (ANRF) to choose one worthy researcher a year pioneering new breakthroughs into rheumatoid arthritis—the “Sontag Foundation Fellow.”

The Sontag Foundation’s interest in rheumatoid arthritis is motivated entirely by its own family interests. At age 35, Rick Sontag’s mother Joyce was diagnosed with RA. This was in the 1950s, when the disease was poorly understood and even more poorly managed—Joyce lived another 37 years, and slowly the negative side effects of the drugs she was taking to manage her arthritis ravaged her body. In 2002, after selling his aviation components company, Unison, Sontag established a brain cancer research program, and he partnered with the ANRF to fund rheumatoid arthritis research, in honor of his late mother.

Through the ANRF partnership, Sontag awards the annual fellowship. It's not clear how the fellows are selected, and there does not appear to be an open application process. On a much smaller scale, the foundation makes grants for cancer research, although those tend to go to large national organizations such as the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.


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