Thrasher Research Fund: Grants for Disease

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 and experienced, doctoral-level principal investigators.

IP TAKE: Which research award you apply for depends upon your level of experience in pediatric research. The fund’s early career awards don’t pay as much, but it awards significantly more of them.

PROFILE: The Thrasher Research Fund is best known for providing grants for pediatric medical research. The focus here is on a wide range of children’s health problems and diseases. Prevention, treatment, cure and broad-based applications are at the heart of this funder’s giving.

E.W. “Al” Thrasher established the foundation over 30 years ago to improve the health of children. More specifically, he donated 2,034 acres of second-growth redwood timber property so that the sale proceeds would benefit pediatric medical research. This donation was made in 1972, and the land sold for almost $14 million in 1977.

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.

Grantmaking is split between the E.W. “Al” Thrasher Awards and early career awards. Thrasher Awards are given to doctoral-level researchers, last up to three years, and are around $300,000. The fund favors health problems that affect large numbers of children, hypothesis-driven research, and practical solutions. Note that the organization has stopped funding studies primarily conducted with animal models.

Thrasher gives Early Career Awards to physicians in residency or a fellowship training program with less than a year of experience; it also gives the awards to post-doctoral researchers with less than three years of experience. These awards last up to two years and the maximum value is $25,000, with an additional $2,000 for conference travel to report on findings. Projects require the guidance of mentors. In a recent grant cycle, Thrasher received 120 concept papers, invited 40 proposals and funded 15.

You can view a list of recent grantees on the foundation website. A quick glance at the funding map shows that support has been spread all over the world, with researchers inside and outside the U.S. eligible for grants.

Researchers working on children’s diseases are encouraged to contact the fund’s research managers to discuss funding opportunities. The first stop in the application process is to submit a concept paper, then, applicants are invited to submit a full proposal. Funding decisions are typically made in March and September. The fund is based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and an executive committee and an advisory committee administers the fund today. To keep up with current happenings at the foundation, follow the Thrasher Research Fund’s blog.

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