The mission of BWF is to advance the medical sciences through the support of research and education by providing grants totaling $25 million to $35 million per year. Its major strategy is to invest in people, particularly young scientists working in undervalued or underfunded areas of research. BWF currently funds four competitive programs that rely on institutions to nominate their best young scientists. Two of these programs are bridging awards: they provide support for 2 years at the postdoctoral level and then continue for 3 years into the assistant professorship level. This funding is viewed as risk capital that young scientists can use to innovate and gather some preliminary data that help them to be more successful in obtaining subsequent NIH grants. Another of the four programs provides support to clinical investigators at the late assistant and early associate professor level who are engaged in translational research that spans the gap between the bench and the bedside. The fourth program supports assistant professors studying infectious diseases.
In addition to these national programs, BWF provides support for science education within the state of North Carolina. The centerpiece of this effort is a competitive program for student science enrichment at the secondary school level. About 85 percent of the BWF funding goes to its competitive awards, and 15 percent of the funding goes to other catalytic efforts to improve the environment for BWF researchers. Within its national programs, BWF actively encourages the support of reproductive science as a broad category, but these grants are not specified for research in subcategories, such as prematurity.