Wellcome exists to improve health by helping great ideas to thrive.
We support researchers, we take on big health challenges, we campaign for better science, and we help everyone get involved with science and health research. We are a politically and financially independent foundation.
We value breadth and depth in the activities we support
We remain true to the vision and values of our founder, Sir Henry Wellcome, a medical entrepreneur, collector and philanthropist. Our work today reflects the amazing breadth of Henry's interests, and his belief that science and research expand knowledge by testing and investigating ideas. Our governance is based on an updated version of his will.
Our funding supports over 14,000 people in more than 70 countries. In the next five years, we aim to spend up to £5 billion helping thousands of curious, passionate people all over the world explore ideas in science, population health, medical innovation, the humanities and social sciences and public engagement.
For example, one of the world’s biggest challenges is how to be better prepared for the next major epidemic. We take on this problem in many different ways – here are just a handful:
- Vaccine development, such as when we co-funded the development of a new Ebola vaccine
- Behavioural projects, such as training health workers to reduce risk of infection while working on the frontline
- Social science, including research into the ethics of medical trials involving pregnant women, which was of urgent importance during the Zika virus.
- Developing research leaders in regions most affected by infectious disease (as we’ve done through our DELTAS Africa initiative)
- Advocacy, encouraging governments and global businesses to take part in building a more secure future for global health.
We bring these activities together to make a difference
When we can, we bring together different people and strands of activity to create something greater than the sum of its parts.
Sometimes that means backing an idea in the laboratory, and then helping it develop into a new treatment or approach to patient care.
For example, the idea for how to prevent mitochondrial disease – a devastating genetic illness passed from mother to child – came after years of scientific research to understand the biology of mitochondria, plus humanities and social science research to explore the ethical and social acceptability of mitochondrial donation.
The development of new IVF techniques for preventing mitochondrial disease followed, and our policy and campaign work to promote change means that UK law now allows these techniques to be considered for use.
At other times, we take an interdisciplinary approach from the start. The Hub, for example, is a specially designed space where researchers and other creative minds can collaborate. Heart n Soul, a creative arts company and charity, are our Hub residents until 2020.
Its project will bring together artists, scientists, researchers and clinicians, with and without lived experience of learning disabilities, to uncover new insights around the lives of people with autism and learning disabilities.
We can take the long view, while also acting flexibly
We have a £25.9 billion investment portfolio, which funds all the work we do. This allows us to plan for the long-term, while having the independence to act flexibly and responsively.
We've funded the Wellcome Sanger Institute since 1993. It played a key role in the Human Genome Project, mapping 30% of the human DNA sequence as part of an international collaboration. Our backing kept the results public, which meant researchers could freely – and permanently – access the data. Today, the Wellcome Sanger Institute continues to be a world leader in genome research.
We run Wellcome Collection, a free destination in central London that’s open to everyone. Wellcome Collection is also the home of Wellcome Library, one of the world’s best resources for the study of medical history.
These long-term investments – and many others – ensure discoveries and knowledge are freely available to all for generations to come.
We work with others to reach our goals
We work with academia, philanthropy, business, governments and civil society around the world.
With this network of people and partner organisations, we can achieve more than would be possible on our own. We might not always succeed, but we are committed to being as daring, open and ambitious as we can be in our efforts to improve health and make life better.
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Wellcome Photography Prize 2019
The Wellcome Photography Prize celebrates compelling imagery that captures stories of health, medicine and science.
Our international cultural project is exploring local stories of contagion in New York, Hong Kong and Geneva.
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