About the Wellcome Trust
The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The Trust's breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests.
The Wellcome Trust was established in 1936 in the will of Sir Henry Wellcome, a pharmaceutical pioneer, progressive industrialist, philanthropist and archaeologist. The Trustees began work in 1937 with £73 048 in the deposit account.
Between 1936 and 1986, the Wellcome Trust was the sole owner of the Wellcome Foundation, Henry Wellcome's drug company. In 1986, however, the Trust began floating shares in the Wellcome Foundation and used the proceeds to diversify its assets. This has helped the Trust grow to become one of the world's largest charitable foundations, with assets of £14.5 billion (September 2012).
The Trust made its first awards in 1938 to Otto Loewi, who had been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1936 for his discovery of acetylcholine and its physiological actions, and to Henry Foy and Athena Kondi for their work tackling malaria at the Wellcome Trust Research Laboratories in Thessaloniki, Greece. However, it was not until the mid-1980s that its spending became significant, thanks to its share floatation.
From 1 October 1985 until the end of September 2012, the Trust spent £10.1 billion. It now spends around £650 million each year to achieve extraordinary improvements in human and animal health and expects to spend £3.5 billion over the next five years.