Thrasher Research Fund: Grants for Diseases

OVERVIEW: This funder supports pediatric medical research to prevent, treat and cure a wide range of diseases that affect children. Thrasher funds early career physicians and researchers, as well as experienced, doctoral-level principal investigators.

IP TAKE: This is a very accessible funder that offers grants to researchers in various phases of their career.

PROFILE: E.W. “Al” Thrasher established the Thrasher Research Fund over 40 years ago to improve the health of children. His donation of 2,034 acres of second-growth redwood timber property was sold for $14 million in 1977, providing the initial basis for the Research Fund. The philanthropic fund has received national and global recognition for its research support. In the fund’s first 30-plus years, it gave over $90 million to researchers working on diagnostic methods, treatments and policy advocacy to improve children’s lives. Some of the research areas that the fund supports include blindness, nutritional deficiencies, brain injuries, diabetes, asthma, cancer, genetic diseases, HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, schistosomiasis, cytomegalovirus and otitis media. The foundation’s two main grantmaking programs are the E.W. “Al” Thrasher Awards and the Early Career Awards.

The E.W. “Al” Thrasher Awards support researchers working on “significant health problems that affect children in large numbers and offer the potential for practical solutions to these problems.” It prefers projects that are “innovative and have the potential for broad applicability with low financial and/or technical barriers to implementation,” and prioritizes hypothesis-driven research over broad, exploratory research. Note that the organization has stopped funding studies primarily conducted with animal models, and will not support research on human fetal tissue, behavioral science research, educational programs, or general operating expenses.

Thrasher’s Early Career Awards aim to “encourage the development of medical research in child health by awarding small grants to new researchers.” The award is open to physicians in residency or a fellowship training program, or have finished one less than a year ago, as well as post-doctoral researchers who received their degree less than three years ago.

The Thrasher Award averages $300,000 for up to three years, while the Early Career Award grants a maximum of $25,000. Grantseekers may view a list of recent grantees on the foundation website.

Eligible applicants must submit a concept paper before being invited to submit a full proposal. The Thrasher Award accepts applications on a rolling basis, while the Early Career Award has fixed deadlines.

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