The Burroughs Wellcome Fund is an independent private foundation dedicated to advancing the medical sciences by supporting research and other scientific and educational activities. Within this broad mandate, BWF's general strategy is to help scientists early in their careers develop as independent investigators, and to support investigators who are working in, or entering, fields in the biomedical sciences that are poised for significant advance but currently undervalued and underfunded. BWF encourages applications from physician-scientists, women, and underrepresented minorities. BWF is governed by a Board of Directors composed of distinguished scientists and business leaders and is not affiliated with any corporation.
BWF channels its financial support primarily through competitive award programs, which are directed by advisory committees composed of leading scientists and educators. Most awards are made to degree-granting institutions on behalf of individual researchers who must be nominated by their institutions. All award programs are open to U.S. and Canadian scientists (except as noted in the program descriptions).
Career Awards for Medical Scientists
Five-year awards for physician scientists provide $700,000 to bridge advanced postdoctoral/fellowship training and the early years of faculty service. Proposals must be in the area of basic biomedical, disease oriented, translational, or molecular, genetic, or pharmacological epidemiology research. Proposals in the area of epidemiology should contact BWF to determine their eligibility. Proposals in health services research or involving large-scale clinical trials are ineligible. Awards are made to degree granting institutions in the U.S. or Canada on behalf of the individual awardee.
Collaborative Research Travel Grant
Provide up to $15,000 in support for interdisciplinary biomedical researchers from degree-granting institutions to travel to a laboratory to acquire a new research technique or to facilitate a collaboration.
Career Guidance for Trainees
Award supports demonstration projects that will model affordable approaches to improving trainees’ readiness for stable, fulfilling careers, whether by clarifying and improving their basic “PhD-level” skills, by helping them identify how they can best use their skills and interests to serve the needs of potential employers, by providing them approaches to thinking through their career options, or by other strategies.
Underrepresented Minority Enrichment Program
Provides $50,000 over three years to support the development of underrepresented minority postdoctoral fellows in biomedical research.
Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease
Five-year awards provide $500,000 for opportunities for accomplished investigators at the assistant professor level to study pathogenesis, with a focus on the intersection of human and microbial biology. The program is intended to shed light on the overarching issues of how human hosts handle infectious challenge. The awards are intended to give recipients the freedom and flexibility to pursue new avenues of inquiry and higher-risk research projects that hold potential for advancing significantly the biochemical, pharmacological, immunological, and molecular biological understanding of how infectious agents and the human body interact.
Career Awards at the Scientific Interface
Five-year awards provide $500,000 to bridge advanced postdoctoral training and the first three years of faculty service. These awards are intended to foster the early career development of researchers with backgrounds in the physical/mathematical/computational/engineering sciences whose work addresses biological questions. These awards are open to U.S. and Canadian citizens or permanent residents. There is limited eligibility for temporary residents.
Institutional Program Unifying Population and Laboratory Based Sciences
Five-year institutional training awards provide $500,000 a year to bridge the gap between the population and computational sciences and the laboratory-based biological sciences. The award will support the training of researchers between existing concentrations of research strength in population approaches to human health and in basic biological sciences. The goal is to establish training programs by partnering researchers working in schools of medicine and schools (or academic divisions) of public health.
Innovation in Regulatory Science Awards
Provide up to $500,000 over five years to academic investigators who are addressing research questions that will lead to innovation in regulatory science, with ultimate translation of those results into improving the regulatory process. These awards are intended to provide support for academic researchers developing new methodologies or innovative approaches in regulatory science that will ultimately inform the regulatory decisions the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and others make.
Preterm Birth Initiative
Four-year awards provide up to $600,000 to increase understanding of basic biological mechanisms underlying parturition and spontaneous preterm birth using multisciplinary approaches. The initiative is designed to bring together a diverse interdisciplinary group with expertise in genetics/genomics, immunology, microbiology and proteomics along with the more traditional areas of parturition research such as maternal fetal medicine, obstetrics, and pediatrics to address scientific issues related to preterm birth.
Clinical Scientist Awards in Translational Research
During the Burroughs Wellcome Fund's "Terrain Mapping," we consider the changing landscape of science and funding across the biomedical research enterprise and how our portfolio of grant programs contributes to it. Based on this review, the BWF Board has decided to discontinue the Clinical Scientist Awards in Translational Research (targeted at mid-career, established investigators) and, instead, focus its involvement in translational research on providing early-career support for physician scientists.
Catalytic program: Health Research Alliance
The Health Research Alliance is a national consortium of nongovernmental, not-for-profit funders of health research and training.
Student Science Enrichment Program
Three-year awards provide $180,000 to North Carolina nonprofit organizations, including public/private schools, universities, colleges, and museums. This program supports creative inquiry-based science enrichment activities for K-12 students. The program’s goals are to nurture students’ enthusiasm about science, expose them to the excitement of scientific discovery, and interest them in pursuing careers in research or a variety of other careers in science.
Career Awards for Science and Mathematics Teachers
Five-year awards provide $175,000 to recognize North Carolina public primary and secondary teachers who have demonstrated a solid content knowledge of science and mathematics and have outstanding performance records in educating children. The award presents opportunities for professional development and collaboration with other master science and mathematics teachers. The award also offers schools and school districts the opportunity to develop teachers as leaders in their fields.
Promoting Innovation in Science and Mathematics
Awards provide teachers with funding for materials, equipment, and training to conduct hands-on, inquiry-based science and mathematics projects in North Carolina public schools.
Catalytic program: North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center
The North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center was established in 2002 to systematically improve performance in science, mathematics, and technology pre K-12 education for all children in North Carolina.
BWF has partnered with various organizations to help develop an infrastructure for improving science, mathematics, and technology education across North Carolina. The institutions that have emerged from these partnerships are making an impact on public policy, teacher training, the informal science community, and scientists working with teachers.