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Differentiated dollars

Building your startup with venture philanthropy investment.

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Fig. 1: Growth in US disease foundation research investments and in principal sources of US healthcare R&D investment, 2002–2017.
Fig. 2: US R&D investment growth rates, 2002–2017.
Fig. 3: Venture philanthropy investment spectrum.


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  7. Research America. 2002 Investment in US Health Research (Research America, 2002).

  8. Research America. US Investments in Medical Health and Research Development (Research America, 2019).

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We thank Sean Doherty, Katie Ellias and Amy Montalto for agreeing to participate in our case studies and providing access to the senior management team of JDRF T1D Fund. We thank Ansbert Gadicke and Chris Bardon for agreeing to participate in our case studies and providing access to the senior management team of MPM, and Kirsten Laguerre and Kellie Neville for helpful comments. We thank Ned Sheetz, Greg Donaldson, and Laura Sol for agreeing to participate in our case studies and providing access to the senior management team of American Heart Association and Aphelion Capital. We thank the many executives who generously provided their time to participate in interviews and wished to remain anonymous so as to speak freely. We thank Jayna Cummings and Shannon McCarthy for their editorial feedback throughout the writing process. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors only, and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of any institution or agency, any of their affiliates or employees, or any of the individuals acknowledged above. The information presented is made available solely for general informational purposes and does not constitute endorsement, recommendation or favoring by MIT or the authors. Neither MIT nor the authors warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of this information. Any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk.

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Correspondence to Daniel L. Alvarez or Andrew W. Lo.

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A.W.L. is co-founder of QLS Advisors, LLC, a healthcare analytics and investment advisory company. A.W.L. also invests in and advises a number of biopharma companies that may collaborate with venture philanthropists (the complete list of his investments and advisory positions is available on his website at A.W.L. is an advisor to the American Cancer Society’s BrightEdge Impact Fund, a venture philanthropic organization, and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, a government organization that collaborates with venture philanthropic organizations. A.W.L. has also collaborated with other venture philanthropic organizations on prior research and case studies, including the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the National Brain Tumor Society. D.L.A. reports no competing interests.

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Alvarez, D.L., Lo, A.W. Differentiated dollars. Nat Biotechnol 40, 458–462 (2022).

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