FOCUS Newsletters

January 2018

Winter is here in the Research Triangle Park, but the Fund is gearing up for a new slate of grant programs coming your way in 2018.  A few programs are open and accepting applications:

  • Collaborative Research Travel Grants | Deadline: Feb. 1, 2018
  • Career Guidance for Trainees | Deadline:  March 6, 2018
  • Student STEM Enrichment Program | Deadline: April 18, 2018

Stay tuned as more programs will be announced in the spring by signing up for our newsletter, FOCUS.

How early STEM programs and mentors paved the way for a career in science

When Ishmail Abdus-Saboor was 14, he turned the third floor of his parents’ Philadelphia home into his personal laboratory. There in Germantown, he carefully tended to his experimental subjects, hundreds of freshwater crayfish, which he kept in dozens of shoebox-sized plastic containers. He clipped off various appendages of the unlucky crustaceans, then plied them with ginseng to see if the popular herbal remedy helped them regenerate their lost limbs or claws faster. The experiment took his entire freshman year at Central High School to complete, and earned him first place in the Citywide Science Fair.

John Burris and A View from Philanthropy on the Future of Science Communication

On November 16, 2017, Burroughs Wellcome Fund President Dr. John Burris addressed the future of science communication at the Arthur Sackler Colloquia on the Science of Science Communication inWashington, DC. Burris emphasized the need for scientists to better communicate with other scientists and have a better understanding of their audience and goals, particularly in the area of oral presentations. Video of the talk and Twitter highlights of the conversation are at the link below. You can follow the Fund on Twitter at @bwfund.

Navigating a key component of a successful research program

Historically, science communications was the responsibility of the media and institutional press offices. But, with the continued growth of new and social media and the dramatic changes to traditional media, knowing how to navigate communications will be a boon to your research. The purpose of this article is to help you understand why communicating your science is important, and give you steps you can take to communicate your story effectively.

Burroughs Wellcome Fund an integral part of the global science conversation

Coming from 73 different countries, nearly 1,400 science journalists and writers gathered in San Francisco, California, this October for the 10th World Conference of Science Journalists (WCSJ 2017). The conference was made possible in part by the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, and BWF programs and grantees were an integral part of this global conversation.

FOCUS - August 2016

As summer comes to a close at the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, there are still a few deadlines to consider.  See bwfund.org for complete details.  The Preterm Birth Initiative is now open and ready to accept applications.

  • Career Awards at the Scientific Interface - Deadline:  Sept. 6
  • Career Awards for Science and Mathematics Teachers - Deadline:  Sept. 15
  • Career Awards for Medical Scientists - Deadline:  Oct. 3
  • Preterm Birth Initiative - Deadline:  Dec. 1.

In this issue of FOCUS, read about BWF researchers studying the Zika virus, listen to an audiocast with Pardis Sabeti, and learn about how N.C. teacher Andi Webb travels the world for education.

We, at the Fund, hope you have a wonderful rest of the summer.

The Zika virus has triggered worldwide concern as it spreads across the Americas, leaving thousands of cases of the severe birth defect microcephaly in its wake. Several BWF awardees are working hard to predict the path of Zika, understand how it infects human cells, and identify ways to combat its most devastating effects. Science writer Marla Broadfoot interviewed six of these researchers about their efforts to combat this enigmatic disease.

In this edition of FOCUS In Sound, we meet Dr. Pardis Sabeti, a geneticist who won a Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award in the Biomedical Sciences in 2005, and has gone on to enjoy a distinguished career, culminating this year in being named one of the 100 Most Influential People in America by TIME magazine.  That recognition follows her inclusion as one of TIME’s Persons of the Year in 2014, celebrating her role as an Ebola fighter.  Although Pardis has a long list of accomplishments in her years of research on the genetics of infectious diseases, for this edition of Focus In Sound we want to concentrate on the incredible story of her work on Ebola. 

When educators create a positive emotional climate in the classroom, where children feel safe—both physically and emotionally—almost anything can happen.  That’s the general philosophy of Andi Webb, a math coach at Alderman Road Elementary School in Fayetteville, N.C., and recipient of the 2015 Career Award for Science and Mathematic Teachers from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

FOCUS - May 2016


The Burroughs Wellcome Fund is gearing up for another award cycle, beginning with the Investigators in the Pathegenesis of Infectious Diseases (pre-proposal deadline: 7/15).  

Other deadline for the grants cycles are:  

As a reminder, these programs are now open nomination to researchers at degree-granting institutions in the United States or Canada.  This, of course, does not apply to CASMT which is open to public school teachers in North Carolina. 

Another important thing to note is that the awards are now open to temporary residents in the United States and Canada.  Please check the program's eligibility for further details since the Fund has reduced citizenship restrictions.

We have also released our annual report and audited financial reports, which are available for download.  

also in this issue...

By the mid-1990’s, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund identified the interface of biology and the quantitative sciences as an area in need of funding.  The Fund’s initial foray into the field began with the creation of interdisciplinary training programs.  The Institutional Awards at the Scientific Interface funded 10 programs from 1996-2000, which supported 367 trainees.

What is research? In his book on experimental design, David Glass of the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, puts it this way: Scientific research is the process of determining some property Y about some thing X, to a degree of accuracy sufficient for another person to confirm this property Y.

If you’re a new academician launching an independent research lab, it’s no secret the key to your success is focus. Concentrating on your goals is imperative for achieving a promotion or tenure.

Dr. Andrea Goforth is a chemist who explores materials at the nanoscale. Join Burroughs Wellcome Fund to bring her Science In Focus.

As materials are made smaller and smaller, their properties change. Materials at the nanoscale act quite different from their macro-sized molecular counterparts. Dr. Andrea Goforth from Portland State University investigates various materials, like silicon and bismuth, to discover the possible new technologies that these differences may unlock for medical science.

The Fund's meeting professional Lori Hedrick received a Pyramid Award from the Promotional Products Association International for best Internal Communications Program for the promotional items provided for the Fund's 60th anniversary in 2015.  Gephart Marketing Solutions nominated the 60th anniversary materials for the award.

November 2015

The Millenial Youth Led Expedition (MYLES) of Science program showed the Marshall, N.C. native why it’s important to understand the impacts on the snails’ ecosystem.

When Feroz Papa was an internal medicine resident at the University of California, San Francisco he treated many patients with diabetes, giving them insulin and other treatments designed to restore the body’s balance of glucose. But he always knew he wasn’t treating the root of the problem.

May 2015

On this edition of Focus In Sound, we bring you a special treat.  In May 2015, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund celebrated its 60th anniversary with a series of events at the Fund’s headquarters in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.  On May 20th, the Fund welcomed approximately 100 guests to a dinner held out in the building’s courtyard.  After that dinner, I had the privilege of interviewing Dr. George Langford from Syracuse University, who has been a member of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Board since 2008.

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