The Ambrose Monell Foundation: Grants for Science Research


OVERVIEW: For the past 20 years, Monell's biggest cause has been the Monell Chemical Senses Center, which studies taste and smell. But the foundation has supported a variety of other research programs, largely medical and particularly related to cancer.

IP TAKE: Monell's primary focus is its namesake research center. It supports a variety of causes, but science research a clear priority. It accepts unsolicited online inquiries.

PROFILE: The Ambrose Monell Foundation is one of two closely connected foundations started in 1956 by Norwegian shipbuilder G. Unger Vetlesen and wife Maude Monell. The Monell and Vetlesen foundations share the same goals, but those goals are pretty loosely defined. Both foundations now have identical missions, serving religious, charitable, scientific, literary, and educational purposes. Monell provides “a long-term commitment to voluntarily aiding and contributing to scientific, cultural, educational, and other charitable initiatives.”

The foundation's signature program is the Monell Chemical Senses Center, which is associated with the University of Pennsylvania and bills itself as “world’s only independent, non-profit scientific institute dedicated to interdisciplinary basic research on the senses of taste and smell.” The center was founded in 1967 with a $1 million grant from Ambrose Monell, and it receives about another $1 million yearly.

The rest of Monell's grantmaking is less specifically targeted, but a good deal of it goes to research. Each year, the foundation regularly awards dozens of grants. Most fall within the $25,000 to $100,000 range, but a smaller portion have reached $300,000 or higher. Past grantees can be viewed here, and featured case studies can be found here.

Monell frequently supports research to cure diseases, especially cancer. Past grantees in this area include the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

However, Monell's grants are definitely not limited to cancer research. For example, the foundation has funded Yale for research on parasitic disease in Africa, as well as the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.

The foundation accepts inquiries from new grantseekers year-round. Monnell does not accept hard-copy inquiries; preliminary applications must go through the foundation’s online form. The foundation will respond four to six weeks after receiving an application to indicate whether they want a full proposal.


  • Ambrose K. Monell, President and Treasurer

  • Eugene Grisanti, Vice President and Director

  • Maurizio J. Morello, Executive Vice President