Plan for Wellcome relief

November 10, 2000

The Wellcome Trust has unveiled a £3 billion, five-year plan that underlines its growing importance to British science.

The corporate plan, the medical charity's first, sets out objectives and values to guide future funding of biomedical research.

The trust's income has grown more than 40-fold in two decades. Its spending is almost double the £345 million the Medical Research Council mustered this year.

As plans are drawn up for a new headquarters, Mike Dexter, the trust's director, accepts that the power the charity has come to wield makes it timely to declare its goals.

"With the wealth and influence, there is also a responsibility... to society as a whole," he said.

The plan identifies four central aims. First, the trust will continue to help boost the knowledge base, backing research that provides the essential "raw material" from which improvements in health will ultimately be derived. This will include gaining a better understanding of the social and historical context.

The second aim is to ensure that the right people are able to carry out this research with the facilities they require.

The third aim is to tap this flow of research to improve health care, enhancing links between the parties involved, from scientists to policy-makers to health workers.

Finally, the trust will engage with the public to build confidence in research and to contribute to decision making and the setting of priorities.

In all this, the trust will endeavour to maintain its independence, pursue excellence, act with integrity, help shape the science agenda and stay flexible enough to move rapidly into emerging areas.

The Wellcome Trust was founded with a private endowment from the will of Sir Henry Wellcome 64 years ago. It has assets valued at £15 billion.

Although it guards its independence, it is a vital partner in government schemes. These range from the Joint Infrastructure Fund, the national population biomedical collection and the synchrotron.

Its support for the Sanger Centre kept the United Kingdom at the heart of the Human Genome Project.

THE TRUST'S SPENDING FOR NEXT FIVE YEARS

* £1.2 billion to fund baseline activities in response to requests from scientists in existing and emerging areas of research

* £310 million to support existing fixed-term research

* £180 million for a programme of support for major research centres

* More than £300 million for Wellcome Trust Genome Campus at Hinxton, home to the Sanger Centre

* £0 million to respond to emerging research opportunities

* £570 million committed to building projects, such as JIF and the synchrotron project

* Nearly £400 million allocated for direct activities, such as Catalyst BioMedica Ltd - the business wing that helps translate research into industry - and the Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine.

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