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Funding Biomedical Research Programs: Contributions of the Markey Trust
Finally, in order to preserve resources, the committee concluded that, whenever possible, site visits should be made in clusters, minimizing travel time and expenses. Telephone interviews were used to augment the site visits. In two cases, NRC staff were unable to schedule a time for the telephone interview with the principal investigator, who submitted a letter report in place of the telephone interview. From some grantees telephone interviews and site visits and/or letter reports were obtained. Ultimately, data were obtained from 25 recipients.
These data provided the committee with valuable insights into how funds were used in a particular institution. The committee found, however, that it was difficult to generalize the insights garnered from these sources because of the diverse nature of the problems studied by grantees and the variety of awards made. The committee came to the conclusion that Research Program Grants were awarded to a heterogeneous group of investigators at a number of different universities within differently configured research centers.
The committee recognized that, at a minimum, Markey Research Program Grants awards could be classified into two categories: infrastructure development and investigator-initiated awards. The infrastructure development awards were used to create, expand, or enhance an existing department, center, or program or to develop new centers that focused on a particular aspect of the biological sciences. For several recipients, the awards resulted in the development of multidisciplinary departments within the biological sciences. Investigator-initiated awards focused on one or more particular research projects tied to a particular investigator or team of investigators. In addition, the committee classified Research Program Grants awards on a second dimension—the size of the award. The award amounts varied from less than $1 million to more than $13 million. The committee, somewhat arbitrarily, designated $4 million in total funding as the boundary between large and small awards. These awards are shown in Table A.
Infrastructure development awards tended to be made during the initial years of the Trust’s philanthropy and were, in general, large awards—that is, in excess of $4 million. Investigator-initiated awards tended to be made during the concluding years of the Trust’s philanthropy and were, in general, smaller awards—less than $4 million. However, there was sufficient variability in these awards that they overlapped in size with those for infrastructure development. Site visits were made to evaluate both infrastructure development and investigator-initiated awards and to recipients of both large and small awards.
A good example of such an intersection of dimensions is one of the earliest awards made by the Markey Trust to the University of California, San Francisco. This award of nearly $14 million enabled the university to