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Frequently asked questions


What does the Wellcome Trust do?

The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health by supporting bright minds in science, the humanities and social sciences, and public engagement. More information about us.

How and when was the Wellcome Trust established?

The Wellcome Trust was established in 1936 on the death of Sir Henry Wellcome. In his will, Wellcome vested the entire share capital of the drug company, The Wellcome Foundation Limited, in individual Trustees. The Trustees were to use the income from the Wellcome Foundation to support medical research and research into the history of medicine.

The Wellcome Trust remained the sole shareholder of The Wellcome Foundation Limited until 1986, when the Foundation became a public limited company, Wellcome plc, and was floated on the London stock market. Find out more about our history.

How much does the Wellcome Trust spend in a year?

We invest more than £700 million a year in science, the humanities and the social sciences, as well as education, public engagement and the application of research to medicine. Find out about our vision and the achievements and impact of our funding.

From where does the Wellcome Trust get its money?

The Wellcome Trust currently has an endowment of £18 billion, which it invests with long-term stability in mind. It is the UK's largest non-governmental source of funds for biomedical research. As a privately endowed charity, it is independent from governments, from industry and from donors. Find out more about investments at the Trust.

How is the Wellcome Trust managed and governed?

The governing document of the Wellcome Trust is its constitution, an updated version of the will of Sir Henry Wellcome. Ultimate responsibility for its activities lies with its Board of Governors.

Day to day activity of the Trust is managed by the Executive Board, which is led by the Director of the Wellcome Trust, Jeremy Farrar. Find out more about our management and governance.

How many scientists does the Wellcome Trust fund?

The Wellcome Trust funds over 4000, both in the UK and internationally. Approximately 10 per cent of its research is carried out overseas.

What types of research does the Wellcome Trust fund?

We fund medical and biomedical research ranging from stem cells to neuroimaging, genetics to vaccine development. Recent key achievements include:

  • The Human Genome Project - our funding was key to ensuing that data from the project was placed in the public domain
  • The Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium - the largest ever study of the genetics behind common diseases
  • Artemisinin - our researchers developed and tested this antimalarial drug, which is having a major impact on the treatment of malaria.
  • Treatment for bulimia nervosa - our research has led directly to the development of a cognitive behaviour therapy to treat this common and distressing eating disorder.

Although most of our work takes place within the UK, we also have major overseas programmes in Kenya, Malawi, South Africa and Southeast Asia. These carry out vital research on diseases that cause high levels of mortality in the tropics, such as malaria, HIV, TB and avian flu. Find out more about our Major Overseas Programmes.

We fund all the major centres for the study of history of medicine throughout the UK and have supported a number of historical dramas on Channel 4, including the award-winning 'Trafalgar Battle Surgeon'.

What public engagement work does the Wellcome Trust do?

The Wellcome Trust is one of the UK's leading funders of public engagement activities. We engage a wide range of audiences through funding sci-art activities, theatre productions, art installations and films. Learn more about our public engagement activities.

Wellcome Collection - our free visitor destination for the incurably curious - enables the public to explore the connections between medicine, life and art. The venue offers visitors contemporary and historic exhibitions and collections, lively public events and debates, and is host to the world-renowned Wellcome Library.

Wellcome Trust, Gibbs Building, 215 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE, UK T:+44 (0)20 7611 8888