Correspondence | Published:

Medical research

No catch to UK charity funding

Nature volume 482, page 308 (16 February 2012) | Download Citation

Universities receiving upwards of £1 billion (US$1.6 billion) in total annually from UK medical research charities would probably disagree that their benefactors are 'hijacking' university resources (Nature 481, 260; 2012).

The UK government supports charity-funded research as part of its higher-education funding. This enables charitable funds, often donated by the public, to be spent directly on research while the government pays universities to cover the costs of overheads and infrastructure.

Charities themselves invest in research infrastructure and resources. For example, the Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research UK are collaborating with the Medical Research Council and three London universities to invest £650 million in the Francis Crick Institute, a world-class research centre. The British Heart Foundation has committed £10 million to new university buildings since 2010, including £1 million towards the Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.

The UK research base benefits from the breadth and diversity provided by a mix of public, for-profit and charitable funders.

Author information


  1. Wellcome Trust, London, UK.

    • Mark Walport
  2. Cancer Research UK, London, UK.

    • Iain Foulkes
  3. British Heart Foundation, London, UK.

    • Peter Weissberg
  4. Breast Cancer Campaign, London, UK.

    • Delyth Morgan
  5. Association of Medical Research Charities, London, UK.

    • Sharmila Nebhrajani


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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Mark Walport.

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