Wallace H. Coulter Foundation: Grants for Higher Education

OVERVIEW: The Coulter Foundation supports universities working on biomedical engineering exploration with endowed grants that support lab development, research grants, and fellowships. Though there are some exceptions, Coulter funding prioritizes researchers at longtime partner universities. 

IP TAKE: Coulter is a generous funder, but grantmaking is very competitive.

PROFILE: Since 1999, the Coulter Foundation has supported university biomedical engineering departments across the country, in accordance with Wallace Coulter’s “deepest passion...to improve health care and make these improvements available worldwide.” The goal of its grant programs is “to address the under-served, under-resourced, and/or under-represented.” Coulter’s three primary initiatives are Translational Research, Colleges, Universities, and Professional Societies, and Sharing the American Dream, which supports and advocates for Asian-Americans.

Coulter’s Translational Research program addresses the lack of “standardized processes, defined organization or consistent funding sources to help translate academic biomedical innovations” into effective, mainstream medical care. The foundation funds research to “accelerate academic innovations to the market to improve patient care.” It launched Phase I in 2004 in partnership with nine universities, and in 2011 Phase II added six more universities to the list. These schools receive $1 million annually over the course of five years to develop and enhance biomedical education. Partnership schools will likely drive a significant portion of the Coulter Foundation's higher education funding in the next few years.

Beyond biomedical engineering, the Coulter Foundation has supported Colleges, Universities, and Professional Societies, particularly those facing hardships. With the underlying goal of supporting “programs that are consistent with, and that will serve as a tribute” to Coulter himself, the foundation has provided million-dollar support for higher education institutions following major disasters.  In addition, Coulter also funds colleges that make efforts to support women in STEM pursuing engineering degrees.

Past grants have ranged from $500,000 to $30 million; however, almost all of Coulter’s funding supports partner schools.

There is no application process online and no indication of where it intends to direct its efforts in the future.


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