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Funding Biomedical Research Programs: Contributions of the Markey Trust
Long-term support for ongoing research endeavors where the current track record presages future payoffs. Such as support provided by the Medical Research Council, University of Cambridge.
The Markey Predoctoral Fellows, the General Organizational Grants, and Markey Scholars programs addressed the first two targets. All of the remaining targets were addressed through the Research Program Grants. The Trustees wanted the Research Program Grants to have a major impact on biomedical sciences and used input from meeting participants to direct funding. Participants concluded that the flexibility to change directions in basic research to pursue new leads and ideas was vital. Although the level of private sector funding in biomedical sciences was lower than federal funding in an absolute sense, this greater flexibility would complement and augment federal funding. In addition, the support for equipment, construction, and renovation—which are generally not covered by federal funding—would provide infrastructure not generally available from other funding sources that was essential to establish or grow new programs. Finally, the relatively large grants would provide sufficient funding for bold efforts and usually represented a significant portion of the recipient’s basic research portfolio (Lucille P. Markey Charitable Trust Records, 1984).
A consensus emerged among experts who advised the Markey Trustees that the focus of the Research Program Grants should be to fund research and infrastructure that would ordinarily not be funded by NIH or NSF. Rather, awards should be directed to proven, able individuals or to small groups working in areas that seemed promising, but might not have preliminary data nor show immediate applied results. The Trustees desired “to encourage the development of programs in biomedical research going beyond the reach of others—things that otherwise might not be done, but should be done” (Lucille P. Markey Charitable Trust Records, 1984). The experts recommended funding long-term support for ongoing research endeavors in which the track record of the individuals in a leadership position predicted major payoffs. They urged the Trustees to emulate a model based on the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge that had provided such support with extraordinary results.
Consequently, the Trustees identified a set of elements to guide the selection of awardees that might predict success and maximize the impact of Markey Research Program Grants. Although all tenets were not applicable to Research Program Grants, they provided guidelines for the selection of grantees by the Markey Trust (Lucille P. Markey Charitable Trust Records, 1989). By the third meeting in Dallas, these characteristics were crystallized into six basic tenets: