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Wellcome Trust

Wellcome Trust
Founded 1936 (1936)
Founder Sir Henry Wellcome
Focus Biomedical Research
  • London, United Kingdom
Area served
United Kingdom and overseas
Key people
Sir William Castell
Prof Jeremy Farrar[1]
Endowment £18 billion

The Wellcome Trust is a biomedical research charity based in London, United Kingdom. It was established in 1936 with legacies from the pharmaceutical magnate Sir Henry Wellcome to fund research to improve human and animal health. The aim of the Trust is to "achieve extraordinary improvements in health by supporting the brightest minds", and in addition to funding biomedical research it supports the public understanding of science. It has an endowment of around £18 billion.[2]

The Trust has been described by the Financial Times as the United Kingdom's largest provider of non-governmental funding for scientific research and one of the largest providers in the world.[3] In the field of medical research, it is the world's second-largest private funder after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.[4]


  • History 1
  • Activities 2
    • Biomedical research 2.1
    • Support for Open Access 2.2
    • Public engagement and the Wellcome Collection 2.3
    • Seeding Drug Discovery Initiative 2.4
    • Purchase of the Co-operative Farms Business 2.5
    • Membership in the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT) 2.6
  • Headquarters 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The Trust was established to administer the fortune of the American-born pharmaceutical magnate Sir Henry Wellcome.[5] Its income was derived from what was originally called Burroughs Wellcome, later renamed in the UK as the Wellcome Foundation Ltd.[6] In 1986, the trust sold 25% of Wellcome plc stock to the public. Overseen by incoming Director of Finance Ian Macgregor, this marked the beginning of a period of financial growth that saw the Trust's value increase by almost £14bn in 14 years, as their interests moved beyond the bounds of the pharmaceutical industry.[7]

In 1995, the trust divested itself of any interest in pharmaceuticals by selling all remaining stock to Glaxo plc, the company's historic British rival, creating GlaxoWellcome plc. In 2000, the Wellcome name disappeared from the drug business altogether when GlaxoWellcome merged with SmithKline Beecham, to form GlaxoSmithKline plc.


Biomedical research

The Trust funds the non-profit, British genomics and genetics research institute.[8]

Support for Open Access

The Wellcome Trust plays an important role in encouraging publication of research in open access repositories[9] such as UK PubMed Central (UKPMC). The Wellcome Trust believes that maximising the distribution of these papers - by providing free, online access - is the most effective way of ensuring that the research can be accessed, read and built upon. In turn, this will foster a richer research culture.

Public engagement and the Wellcome Collection

In June 2007, the Wellcome Building reopened after refurbishment as a public venue, housing the Wellcome Collection, the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at University College London and the Wellcome Library.[10] The aim of the Wellcome Collection is to enhance public understanding of medical science and history. The building contains gallery spaces, conference facilities, space for debates, drama and workshops, a café and a bookshop. The galleries show a small sample of works from Sir Henry Wellcome's collection, and host a programme of events and exhibitions. The Wellcome Collection and exhibitions are open to the public free of charge six days a week.[11]

The Wellcome Collection and Wellcome Library are members of The London Museums of Health & Medicine.

Seeding Drug Discovery Initiative

Also known as SDDI, this five year initiative started in October 2005 with the remit "to facilitate the development of drug-like small molecules that address unmet medical needs." SDDI was based in London and managed by Richard Davis.[12] Through early 2010, SDDI had provided more than £80 million across 30 projects split between academic institutions and companies.[12] To early 2010, all but one of the company recipients were either start-ups or spin-outs.[12] In May 2010, an additional £110 million was added to the SDDI fund with the intent to extend the initiative for an additional 5 years.[13]

Purchase of the Co-operative Farms Business

In August 2014, the Wellcome Trust bought the Co-operative Group's farm business for £249 million. This comprised "15,997 hectares (39,533 acres) of freehold and third party owned land, 15 farms, including three pack houses, over 100 residential properties, and 27 commercial properties."[14]

Membership in the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT)

In the summer of 2015, the Wellcome Trust joined the Japanese government, 7 Japanese pharmaceutical and diagnostics companies, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the United Nations Development Program as funding partner of the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT), which funds scientific research and development for anti-infectives and diagnostics for diseases that primarily affect the developing world.[15][16]


The Wellcome Trust's Gibbs Building on Euston Road

The Wellcome Trust's operations are run from two buildings on Euston Road in London. The Wellcome Building, at 183 Euston Road, built in 1932 in Portland stone houses the Wellcome Collection and the adjoining glass and steel building at 215 Euston Road is the Gibbs Building, by Hopkins Architects, which opened in 2004 as the administrative headquarters of the Wellcome Trust.

See also


  1. ^ Van Noorden, Richard (2013). "Clinician to head Wellcome Trust:  
  2. ^ "Annual Report and Financial Statements". Wellcome Trust. 2014. 
  3. ^ Andrew Jack (2012-04-10). "Wellcome challenges science  journals".   ()
  4. ^ Alok Jha (9 April 2012), "Wellcome Trust joins 'academic spring' to open up science",  
  5. ^ "History of Henry Wellcome". 
  6. ^ Hall, A. R. & Bembridge, B. A. Physic and philanthropy: a history of the Wellcome Trust 1936–1986. Cambridge (UK): Cambridge University Press, 1986. ISBN 0-521-32639-7
  7. ^ Sunday Times investigation, February 1994]
  8. ^ "MRC Centre United Kingdom: Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute".  
  9. ^ "Wellcome Trust position statement in support of open and unrestricted access to published research". 
  10. ^ "The Wellcome Library". 
  11. ^ "Wellcome Collection opening hours". 
  12. ^ a b c "A Wellcome experiment in seeding drug discovery".   (subscription required)
  13. ^ "Wellcome Trust extends Seeding Drug Discovery initiative". TMRM. AngelNews. 14 May 2010. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ “Japan in pioneering partnership to fund global health research”, by Andrew Jack, Financial Times, May 30, 2013
  16. ^ “Japanese Global Health Fund Welcomes the Wellcome Trust and Sysmex Corporation as New Funders and ANA, Morrison & Foerster, and Yahoo! Japan as New Sponsors”, PR Newswire, June 3, 2015, ( , accessed on 9/28/2015

External links

  • Wellcome Trust main website
  • Other Wellcome Trust websites
  • Scientific Conferences supported by the Wellcome Trust
  • Ex Memoria - Wellcome Trust Awarded Film
  • Surgery Live, a Wellcome Collection collaboration with Channel 4
  • European Society for Clinical Microbioloy and Infectious Diseases
  • Federation of European Biochemical Societies
  • European Federation of Pharmaceutical Societies
  • International Society for Infectious Diseases
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