How do non-profit foundations advance medical research?

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Non-profit research foundations play an important role in evolving medical research and finding cures for devastating diseases. Unlike government-funded agencies and large biopharmaceutical companies, some of these foundations focus on one disease. Therefore, they can bring together multiple stakeholders – including regulatory agencies, researchers, donors, patients, and healthcare providers – to focus efforts on the same goal. Non-profit research foundations can also directly involve the public in medical research through fundraising activities, healthy tissue donations, lab and research facility tours, as well as meetings with patients and families.

 

Non-profit research foundations advance innovative research.

Since non-profit organizations have the flexibility to invest in projects with more associated risk than for-profit companies, they can fund early-stage research centred on a specific disease. For example, Susan G. Komen, the largest non-profit breast cancer organization in the US, funds the only normal breast tissue bank in the world: the Susan G. Komen Tissue Bank at the IU Simon Cancer Center. The Komen Tissue Bank has significantly contributed to breast cancer research by allowing researchers to study normal breast tissue. The bank stores normal breast tissue, blood, and DNA samples from over 5,000 healthy donors.1 Tissue samples are shared with researchers upon request, and to date – more than 80 researchers have requested access to Komen Tissue Bank samples that have been used in at least 35 published academic papers.

UK Biobank is one of the largest non-profit research projects in the world and has collected blood, urine and saliva samples – as well as medical history and lifestyle information – from 500,000 volunteers.2 Their goal is to use these biological samples and associated data to find new diagnostic tools and treatment options for age-related diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases. UK Biobank shares data and biological samples with researchers all over the world. And in fact, these resources have been used in over 400 published academic papers.3

 

Non-profit research foundations advance underfunded disease research.

Besides addressing prevalent diseases such as breast cancer and age-related ailments, non-profit research foundations can also focus on diseases that lack research funding such as neglected tropical diseases or rare and orphan diseases. Hundreds of non-profit foundations around the world provide financial support for underfunded diseases. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is one of the largest philanthropic organizations in the world, providing billions of dollars a year in research grants. The Gates Foundation announced in 2017 that it will open a non-profit medical research institute to study underfunded diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis.4 Furthermore, non-profit research foundations and patient advocacy groups have been instrumental in increasing public awareness, public funding, and government legislation regarding rare diseases. Policies such as the US 1983 Orphan Drug Act have been adopted in many different countries in direct response to work by non-profit advocacy groups.5

 

Support for non-profit foundations sustains future research.

Brooks Life Sciences partners with many non-profit research foundations on sample management platforms that facilitate diverse research goals. We support invaluable work by collecting, storing, protecting, and sharing biological samples with collaborating investigators.

By focusing on industry-leading best practices, regulatory-compliant procedures, and accredited facilities – our integrated global network of accredited biorepositories, sample processing facilities, and transport solutions ensures biological samples and associated data are protected at every stage of the research process.

Contact us to find out how Brooks can help research foundations maximize opportunities, generate quality research data, and protect sample integrity.

 

References

  1. Sherman ME et al. The Susan G. Komen Tissue Bank at the IU Simon Cancer Center: a unique resource for defining the “molecular history” of the breast. Cancer Prev Res. 2012
  2. UK Biobank: Improving the health of future generations
  3. UK Biobank published papers
  4. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Statement on Intention to Create Non-Profit Medical Research Institute
  5. Dunkle M et al. Advocacy groups and their role in rare diseases research. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2010.