AT A GLANCE: Wellcome Trust reveals 'funding bonanza'

What is going on? The Wellcome Trust is to increase spending on medical research by 60 per cent to £4bn over the next five years - the heaviest spending ever by a UK charity.

The trust, which funds cutting-edge work such as sequencing of the human genome, is already the second largest medical research charity in the world after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

How much coverage did this receive?
The announcement was carried as an exclusive in the Financial Times. The trust's head of media relations, Katrina Nevin-Ridley, handled the interview, setting up a one-to-one between Wellcome director Mark Walport and FT science editor Clive Cookson. The normally reserved FT called it a 'funding bonanza for British bioscientists', which must be a PRO's dream phrase.

Who else is in the comms team?
The trust has an in-house team of three. Nevin-Ridley is supported by two media officers, Mike Findlay and Craig Brierley. Former head of comms Susannah Randall has decided not to return from maternity leave, which means there is a vacancy that the trust expects to fill in the next few months.

How will the money be broken down?
The trust will spend £650m a year over the next five years, plus a one-off sum of £500m that will be spent on big projects. These include the new UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation in London and the Health Research Innovation Challenge Fund, which is a new partnership with the Department of Health.

Why does the trust have so much money?
Because in an extraordinary display of posthumous corporate philanthropy, pharma pioneer Sir Henry Wellcome left instructions on his death for the entire share capital of his drug company, The Wellcome Foundation, to be spent by trustees on work that fosters and promotes research to improve human and animal health.

Doesn't the trust also put on exhibitions?
Yes, as part of its role to encourage public engagement with science policy and practice, the trust has a permanent exhibition at its HQ in London's Euston Road, which received a lot of media attention when it opened last year. The trust also provides money for other shows.

Further information www.wellcome.ac.uk

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