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Wellcome Trust

Wellcome Trust
FounderSir Henry Wellcome
HeadquartersLondon, United Kingdom
Area servedUnited Kingdom
FocusBiomedical Research
Endowment£13.4 billion
WebsiteWellcome Trust website

  The Wellcome Trust is a United Kingdom-based charity established in 1936 to administer the fortune of the American-born pharmaceutical magnate Sir Henry Wellcome. Its income was derived from what was originally called Burroughs Wellcome & Co, later renamed in the UK as the Wellcome Foundation Ltd (Wellcome plc).

The trust is the world's second richest medical charity after the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with net assets at 30 September 2006 of over £13.4 billion ($26.8 billion). The trust states its mission as being "to foster and promote research with the aim of improving human and animal health." In addition to funding biomedical research, it supports the public understanding of science.

In 1986, the trust sold 25% of Wellcome plc stock to the public, beginning a process of separating itself from the pharmaceutical industry. In 1995, following controversy, 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. The cash windfall generated by this merger has shaped many of the trust's recent developments. In 2000, the Wellcome name disappeared from the drug business when GlaxoWellcome merged with another British firm, SmithKline Beecham, to form GlaxoSmithKline plc. The Wellcome Trust is set to once again become involved in drug manufacture and retail as it is part of a consortium with Terra Firma and HBOS looking to buy Boots (Alliance Boots), the UK drug manufacturer and retailer. Alliance Boots owns brands such as Crookes Healthcare, Unichem, Boots and Nurofen.



The Wellcome Trust invests more than £400 million per annum in biomedical research. Most of this goes to support research that adds to our understanding of health and disease but may have no immediate application. Medical benefits may emerge years later. Funds from the Wellcome Trust have supported these activities:

  • Sequencing of the human genome at the Sanger Institute
  • Development of the antimalarial drug artemisinin
  • Pioneering cognitive behavioural therapies for psychological disorders
  • Establishing the UK Biobank
  • Building of the Wellcome Wing at the Science Museum
  • Diamond Light Source housing the Diamond Synchrotron
  • Establishing the national network of Science Learning Centres

The Wellcome Trust has two buildings on Euston Road in London. The Wellcome Building, at 183 Euston Road, built in 1932 in Portland stone has an impressive exterior and a fine double-height Library Reading Room on the second floor. Next door at 215 Euston Road is the glass and steel Gibbs Building, by Hopkins Architects, opened in 2004 as the administrative headquarters of the charity.

The Wellcome Trust established the Burroughs Wellcome Fund in the US.

In October 2005 the trust was the first large research funding charity to condition funding of research projects to the publication of results in open access repositories.

In 2006 the TRUST awarded funding, through its SCIART production scheme, to EX MEMORIA, a short film by Josh Appiganesi and Mia Bays (2005 Oscar-winning producer for Six Shooter). EX MEMORIA is about Eva, a woman with Alzheimers, and her struggle with her past and present. The film was nominated for a British Independent Film Award for Best British Short in November 2006.

In 2005 Sir Walter Bodmer was appointed to lead a £2.3 million project (roughly $4.5 million US) by the Wellcome Trust at the Oxford University to examine the genetic makeup of the United Kingdom. Professor Sir Walter Bodmer was joined by Oxford Professor Peter Donnelly (a population genetics and statistics expert) and the Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow Professor Lon Cardon. Professor Bodmer said "Our aim is to characterise the genetic make-up of the British population and relate this to the historical and archaeological evidence." The researchers have also begun to present some of their findings to the public via the Channel 4 television series "Faces of Britain." On April 14 2007, Channel 4 in Britain aired a program that highlighted the study’s current findings.

Libraries and public facilities

In April 2007 the Wellcome Building reopened after refurbishment containing a public venue called Wellcome Collection. This is intended to enhance public understanding of current thinking in medical science and history. The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL is one of the organizations here.

The Wellcome Library, also in the Wellcome Building, has very large collections of books, manuscripts, pictures, films, audio and digital files concerning the history of health and related subjects. It is one of the world's foremost collections on these subjects and is open to the public free of charge six days a week.

Wellcome Collection also 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 temporary exhibitions.

See also

  • The Wellcome Museum of Anatomy and Pathology is located at the Royal College of Surgeons of England.
  • List of wealthiest foundations
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute - the world's third wealthiest medical research charity
  • Open access for work sponsored by the trust.


  • 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
  • Open Access a Must for Wellcome Trust Researchers, press release by Wellcome Trust
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Wellcome_Trust". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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