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Biomedical Heavyweights

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Science  08 Oct 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5438, pp. 216-217
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5438.216

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The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and the U.K.'s Wellcome Trust are the undisputed heavyweights of private biomedical funding. They spend more on research than do most governments, and their influence is soaring along with their endowments. Their differences are as striking as their similarities, however. Wellcome, for example, outspends the U.K. research councils on biomedical research, and it targets specific diseases (such as malaria) and avoids others (namely, cancer) if they're relatively well funded. Hughes mostly funds established researchers, who become HHMI employees while remaining at their home institutions.