On February 6th, 2012, the Wellcome Trust announced that it will be accepting applications for its new funding scheme focused on orphan and neglected diseases, the Pathfinder Awards. The overarching goal of the new funding program is to support academic-industry partnerships in the area of orphan and neglected diseases.
These awards are intended to support early-stage applied research and development projects that would otherwise be considered ineligible for the vast majority of the sponsor’s other translational funding schemes.
While there is no widely agreed upon definition for orphan diseases, sometimes referred to as rare diseases, it is generally inclusive of diseases, often genetically caused, that affect less than 0.1% of the population. Neglected diseases may also be rare or orphan diseases, but are also generally characterized as tropical diseases that disproportionately affect low-income populations.
The sponsor will provide up to £ 100,000 for projects up to a maximum of 18 months. Applications for the most immediate round will be accepted through April 2, 2012. The sponsor intends on having four rolling deadlines for every twelve month period.
The sponsor’s aim is to initiate projects that point to promising new products and procedures that can be funded by opportunities focused on more established research goals. The Wellcome Trust is a large sponsor in the biotechnology and health sciences field that is based in the United Kingdom and funds numerous research and related projects around the world.