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Evaluation of the Markey Scholars Program
The Markey Trustees developed an approach to philanthropy they believed would maximize the impact of the Trust’s assets on the biomedical sciences. This approach had the following key attributes:
Distribute all of the assets of the Trust over a limited period of time, allowing more funds to be distributed in a given year and larger awards to be offered;
Operate with a small core staff, thereby reducing administrative costs and allowing a higher proportion of funds to be awarded to grantees; and
Provide funds with only a minimum of required reporting, thereby freeing recipients from the burdensome paperwork often associated with grants.
The Markey Scholar Awards in Biomedical Science and the United Kingdom and Australian Visiting Fellows1 were developed in response the Trustees’ perceived need for funding to enhance the transition from postdoctoral fellow to faculty status. With guidance from expert consultants, the Trustees formulated a program that made about 16 Markey Scholar awards per year to outstanding young biomedical scientists for the seven years between 1985 and 1991 for a total of 113 awards. The program had a rigorous selection process that contributed to its success. The Trustees stipulated that half of the Scholar awardees should have Ph.D. degrees and half should have M.D. or M.D./Ph.D. degrees. The program funded up to 3 years as a postdoctoral fellow followed by 5 years as a faculty member. Stipend and laboratory expenses were included in the funding package that ranged from $570,000 to over $700,000 for Scholars who remained in the program. In addition, between 1986 and 1993 the Trustees supported 36 outstanding young scientists from the United Kingdom and Australia for two-year fellowships at American research institutions.
This report assesses the impact of the Markey Scholars program from three perspectives—were Markey funds well spent, did the Scholars do well, and are there lessons for other funders of biomedical researchers to be gleaned from the Markey Scholars program? The committee adopted a multifaceted approach to evaluating the Markey Scholars program that drew on:
The official names of the programs are the Markey Scholar Award in Biomedical Science and the United Kingdom and Australian Visiting Fellows. The terms Scholars Award or Markey Scholars program and Visiting Fellows program will be used throughout the report.