Suvarna Garge (Editor)

Wellcome Trust

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Registration no.

Euston Road, London NW1

20.9 billion GBP

Henry Wellcome

Biomedical Research

Jeremy Farrar (2013–)

Number of employees

Video game

Wellcome Trust httpslh4googleusercontentcomwkrWXBjiZUsAAA

1936; 81 years ago (1936)

Wellcome Building, 215 Euston Rd., London, United Kingdom, NW1 2BE

Area served
United Kingdom and overseas

Key people
Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller (Chair) Dr Jeremy Farrar (Director)

European Bioinformatics Institute, PLOS, Bill & Melinda Gates Fo, Creative Commons, Howard Hughes Medical I


The Wellcome Trust is a biomedical research charity based in London, United Kingdom. It was established in 1936 with legacies from the pharmaceutical magnate Sir Henry Wellcome to fund research to improve human and animal health. The aim of the Trust is to "achieve extraordinary improvements in health by supporting the brightest minds", and in addition to funding biomedical research it supports the public understanding of science. It has an endowment of around £20.9 billion.


The Trust has been described by the Financial Times as the United Kingdom's largest provider of non-governmental funding for scientific research and one of the largest providers in the world. In the field of medical research, it is the world's second-largest private funder after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


The Trust was established to administer the fortune of the American-born pharmaceutical magnate Sir Henry Wellcome. Its income was derived from what was originally called Burroughs Wellcome, later renamed in the UK as the Wellcome Foundation Ltd. In 1986, the trust sold 25% of Wellcome plc stock to the public. Overseen by incoming Director of Finance Ian Macgregor, this marked the beginning of a period of financial growth that saw the Trust's value increase by almost £14bn in 14 years, as their interests moved beyond the bounds of the pharmaceutical industry.

In 1995, the trust divested itself of any interest in pharmaceuticals by selling all remaining stock to Glaxo plc, the company's historic British rival, creating GlaxoWellcome plc. In 2000, the Wellcome name disappeared from the drug business altogether when GlaxoWellcome merged with SmithKline Beecham, to form GlaxoSmithKline plc.

Major investments

The Trust funds or co-funds a number of major biomedical research initiatives:

  • Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), a cohort study of children born in England during 1991 and 1992.
  • The Cancer Genome Project at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
  • The Diamond Light Source, the UK's national synchrotron science facility in Oxfordshire.
  • Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science Initiative (DELTAS), a collaboration with the Department for International Development (DFID) to establish cutting-edge research and training programmes across the African continent.
  • The Ebola Emergency Initiative, a fast-tracked research programme with the goal of identifying clinical and public health interventions to counter the West African Ebola Epidemic.
  • The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation/ Wellcome Trust Diabetes and Inflammation Laboratory facilitates research into the genetic component of type 1 diabetes and is based in the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research.
  • The Seeding Drug Discovery Initiative.
  • The Structural Genomics Consortium, an international organisation focussing on three-dimensional structures of proteins of medical relevance with an emphasis on open data.
  • The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, a non-profit, British genomics and genetics research institute.
  • UK Biobank and the UK Biobank Ethics and Governance Council.
  • Major Overseas Programmes

  • The KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme, established in 1989 in partnership with the Kenya Medical Research Institute.
  • The Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme, established in 1995.
  • The Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies in South Africa, established in 1998 in partnership with the South African Medical Research Council.
  • The Wellcome Trust-Mahidol University-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Programme in Thailand and Laos, established in 1979.
  • The Vietnam Research Programme and Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.
  • Seeding Drug Discovery Initiative

    Also known as SDDI, this five year initiative started in October 2005 with the remit "to facilitate the development of drug-like small molecules that address unmet medical needs." SDDI was based in London and managed by Richard Davis. Through early 2010, SDDI had provided more than £80 million across 30 projects split between academic institutions and companies. To early 2010, all but one of the company recipients were either start-ups or spin-outs. In May 2010, an additional £110 million was added to the SDDI fund with the intent to extend the initiative for an additional 5 years.

    Support for Open Access and Open Data

    The Wellcome Trust plays an important role in encouraging publication of research in open access repositories such as Europe PubMed Central (EuropePMC). The Wellcome Trust believes that maximising the distribution of these papers - by providing free, online access - is the most effective way of ensuring that the research can be accessed, read and built upon. In turn, this will foster a richer research culture.

    In 2016, the Wellcome Trust partnered with the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to launch the Open Science Prize to "help develop services, tools and platforms that enable open content to be discovered, assessed and re-used in ways that will advance discovery and spark innovation."

    In 2016, Wellcome Trust announced that it would be launching Wellcome Open Research, an open access publication system running on the F1000 Research platform. Article Processing Charges will be covered directly by Wellcome Trust.

    Membership in the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT)

    In the summer of 2015, the Wellcome Trust joined the Japanese government, 7 Japanese pharmaceutical and diagnostics companies, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the United Nations Development Program as funding partner of the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT), which funds scientific research and development for anti-infectives and diagnostics for diseases that primarily affect the developing world.

    Public engagement and the Wellcome Collection

    In June 2007, the Wellcome Building reopened after refurbishment as a public venue, housing the Wellcome Collection, the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at University College London and the Wellcome Library. The aim of the Wellcome Collection is to enhance public understanding of medical science and history. The building contains gallery spaces, conference facilities, space for debates, drama and workshops, a café and a bookshop. The galleries show a small sample of works from Sir Henry Wellcome's collection, and host a programme of events and exhibitions. The Wellcome Collection and exhibitions are open to the public free of charge six days a week.

    The Wellcome Collection and Wellcome Library are members of The London Museums of Health & Medicine.

    Wellcome Book Prize

    The Wellcome Trust sponsors an annual book prize, the Wellcome Book Prize, which "aims to excite public interest and encourage debate" around medicine and health.

    Purchase of the Co-operative Farms business

    In August 2014, the Wellcome Trust bought the Co-operative Group's farm business (renamed Farmcare) for £249 million. This comprised "15,997 hectares (39,533 acres) of freehold and third party owned land, 15 farms, including three pack houses, over 100 residential properties, and 27 commercial properties."


    The Wellcome Trust's operations are run from two buildings on Euston Road in London. The Wellcome Building, at 183 Euston Road, built in 1932 in Portland stone houses the Wellcome Collection and the adjoining glass and steel building at 215 Euston Road is the Gibbs Building, by Hopkins Architects, which opened in 2004 as the administrative headquarters of the Wellcome Trust.


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