EDITORIAL

The New Patrons of Research

Science  04 Apr 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6179, pp. 9
DOI: 10.1126/science.1253925

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Summary

The news is not all bad on the science funding front. Despite the fact that many U.S. researchers face increasing competition in chasing after federal support that has not kept pace with inflation (see the News special section on p. 24), private support is on the rise. Of course, such investments are not a new phenomenon: Nobel, Carnegie, and many others attached their names to major gifts to science more than a century ago. Today, a growing number of billionaires are likewise investing in scientific research as their personal philanthropy, choosing areas that reflect their deeply held passions. These patrons of science bring a refreshing new perspective to the projects they support, because they are typically unafraid to take risks, abhor bureaucracy, and nimbly cross disciplinary boundaries. Many are directly involved in the foundations they support, putting their personal imprimatur on the direction and operation of the ventures that bear their names. With all of this good news, it is somewhat surprising that this influx of private money has been viewed with some skepticism.*

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