Burroughs Wellcome Fund

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The Burroughs Wellcome Fund (BWF) is a private, independent biomedical research foundation based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.[1] BWF was founded in 1955 as the corporate foundation of the Burroughs Wellcome Co., the U.S. branch of the Wellcome pharmaceutical enterprise, based in the United Kingdom. In 1993, a $400 million gift from the Wellcome Trust enabled BWF to become fully independent from the company, which was acquired by Glaxo in 1995 and is now known by the moniker GlaxoSmithKline.[2]

BWF is one of the most significant funders of biomedical research. Its overall goal is to help scientists early in their careers develop as independent investigators, and to advance fields in the basic medical sciences that are undervalued or in need of particular encouragement.[3] Additionally, BWF has invested $3 million annually to support hands-on science education programs for primary and secondary students in North Carolina.[4] According to its annual report,[5] BWF had $720 million in total assets and made $28.4 million in grants in 2013.

History[edit]

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund, founded in the United States in 1955, has roots in 19th-century England, where in 1880 two American pharmacists, Silas Burroughs and Henry Wellcome, formed Burroughs Wellcome and Co. to develop “compressed” medicines or pills for delivering standardized, reproducible dosages that could be safer and more effective than the common potions and powders of the day.[6] After Silas Burroughs died in 1895, Henry Wellcome expanded the company into several continents and numerous countries, including the United States.

In 1924, Wellcome consolidated all of the company’s holdings under a corporate umbrella that he named The Wellcome Foundation Ltd. In recognition of his contributions to international science, Wellcome received a knighthood in 1932 by King George V. When Sir Henry died in 1936, his will called for vesting all of the corporate shares in a new entity – the Wellcome Trust. The Trust’s charge was to devote all of its income to research in medicine and allied science and to the maintenance of research museums and libraries dedicated to these fields. Over the decades, the Trust has supported a vast array of biomedical research in the United Kingdom and other selected regions of the globe, becoming the world’s largest charitable foundation devoted exclusively to the biomedical sciences.

In 1955, Sir Henry Dale, one of the Trust’s original trustees and its chair for 21 years, and William N. Creasy, president and chair of Burroughs Wellcome Co.-USA, created a U.S. extension of the Wellcome Trust that they called the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. For nearly 40 years as a corporate foundation, BWF focused its modest financial resources in selected areas to advance scientific knowledge.

In 1993, BWF received a $400 million gift from the Wellcome Trust that enabled it to become a completely independent foundation, with no direct ties to its funding company. The stated mission of BWF is to advance the medical sciences by supporting research and other scientific and educational activities. Aided by the Trust’s gift, BWF now pursues an enhanced role in biomedical research in the United States and has expanded its support to include Canada. Today, BWF seeks to accomplish two primary goals through its programs: to help outstanding scientists early in their careers develop as independent investigators, and to advance fields in the basic medical sciences that are undervalued or in need of particular encouragement.[7]

A number of individuals were responsible for instilling the Wellcome legacy in the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. William Creasy remained at BWF’s helm for more than a decade, guiding development of the Fund’s mission and scientific activities. William Dowling, who had developed the legal structure of the Fund, served as its chair from 1971 until 1974. George Hitchings, Ph.D., a Nobel laureate who spent most of his career with Burroughs Wellcome Co., served as BWF’s president from 1974 until 1990, and his leadership strongly reinforced the Fund’s belief in the essential link between basic research and practical applications in medicine. Howard Schaeffer, Ph.D., a pioneering chemist who chaired BWF from 1991 until 1994, played a significant role in helping the Wellcome Trust carry outs its gift to the Fund.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ “Contact.” Burroughs Wellcome Fund. Retrieved on March 26, 2014
  2. ^ History of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund 1995-2005. Retrieved on March 26, 2014
  3. ^ "About." Burroughs Wellcome Fund. Retrieved on March 26, 2014
  4. ^ "Science Education." Burroughs Wellcome Fund. Retrieved on March 26, 2014
  5. ^ Burroughs Wellcome Fund 2013 Annual Report
  6. ^ History of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund 1955-2005. Retrieved on March 26, 2014
  7. ^ "About." Burroughs Wellcome Fund. Retrieved on March 26, 2014
  8. ^ History of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund 1955-2005. Retrieved on March 26, 2014

External links[edit]