2021 Annual Report
The Burroughs Wellcome Fund community continues to weather the storm that the pandemic created. From the personal to the professional, we have all been challenged. Here in Research Triangle Park, we are determined and dedicated to moving forward and ensuring that our mission to serve society continues unabated. We see potential silver linings to the grey clouds of the last two years.
Our staff, for the most part, has worked virtually during this time and we have used this time to enhance our infrastructure and upgrade many of our systems. We are increasing our global connectivity and engagement by enhancing our in-house virtual technology so that we may emerge from the pandemic as a greener foundation. I am extremely proud of the effective way the entire BWF community has come together to ensure efficient, seamless operations of our programs. I am inspired by the innovation that has not only overcome challenges but opened new doorways into the future.
We are fortunate the stock market has remained strong, and our endowment allows us to provide room for philanthropic experiments and to take “risks” in our portfolio. The pandemic has provided an opportunity to be creative in our grantmaking portfolio. We have expanded our Science + Arts funding as well as increased our Science Communication budget. As a result of increased funding capacity, we have been able to provide more awards and enhance our new focus area of Climate Change and Human Health.
Additionally, we have helped support our network of awardees by providing flexible funding and no-cost extensions.
During this past year, we have undertaken a vigorous and exciting strategic planning effort that continues into the early part of 2022. We will communicate more about this later in 2022 as plans begin to solidify.
A few highlights:
Diversity in Science Ensuring that we are receiving applications and distributing grants to a broad and diverse audience is critical to the mission of the Fund. We have expanded funding in several grant programs and are continually seeking strategies that consider diversity, equity and inclusion through every mechanism within the Fund.
Climate Change and Human Health Since 2020, we have partnered with the National Academies of Medicine to help fully develop and realize BWF’s role in funding climate change and human health. We have funded pilot grants through the academies and have established an ongoing series of ad hoc grants dedicated to fostering new partnerships among those working in this area.
Science Communication and Arts We have expanded our outreach in Science Communication and Science + Arts. We have contributed funding towards films, theater, an artist-in-residence program, and several audiocast series. We have partnered with National Geographic to fund two incredible science communicators, Álvaro Laiz and Anand Varma.
Power of Partnerships We have partnered with The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and others to support physician-scientists across the United States. During the past year we have established several partnerships with other foundations to reach our goals more effectively. Our involvement with the Science Philanthropy Alliance and the Health Research Alliance have enabled conversations among many science philanthropies and encouraged collaboration and best practices in the field.
As we enter 2022, may we be guided and encouraged by the new normal–expanding reach, inclusiveness, and partnerships for engagement, research success, and lifelong learning. We have learned to be flexible, resilient, and more appreciative of the benefits of a holistically humanistic workspace. We will leverage this new foundation for creative engagement among scientists, educators, artists, journalists, and the public to solve the societal challenges of today and tomorrow.
Louis J. Muglia, MD, PhD
President and CEO
Burroughs Wellcome Fund