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Wellcome News 65

Wellcome News 65

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Published by Wellcome Trust
Read about John Gurdon's work on cloning, the Wellcome Trust's initiatives in India, the SGC's 1000 protein structure release as well as the latest in news, research and funding.
Read about John Gurdon's work on cloning, the Wellcome Trust's initiatives in India, the SGC's 1000 protein structure release as well as the latest in news, research and funding.

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Published by: Wellcome Trust on Dec 15, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Grand designs
The SGC’s 1000th proteinstructure released
Past presents
Christmas books romHenry Wellcome
Reectionson cloning
 An interview withJohn Gurdon
In 2011, the Wellcome Trust will be 75 yearsold. We usually ocus on our currentactivities and uture plans, so this is arereshing opportunity or us to reect onthe Trust’s history and evolution into whatit is today. It is a ascinating story, o how acharitable oundation with only one asset– Sir Henry Wellcome’s pharmaceuticalcompany, which was insolvent by 1947– came to be ully independent and able totake a world-leading role in unding research.The story o the origin o the Trust is wellknown. On Wellcome’s death in 1936, theshare capital o his company, the WellcomeFoundation Limited, was vested in theWellcome Trust. Income rom the capitalwould be used to advance medical researchand understanding o its history. AsWellcome pointed out in his will, “Withthe enormous possibility o developmentin chemistry, bacteriology, pharmacy andallied sciences…there are likely to be vastfelds opened or productive enterprise orcenturies to come.”Less well known are the struggles o the Trust’s early years. So complex wereWellcome’s aairs and diverse enterprises– and the need to pay enormous estateduties – that the Trust’s income was airlylow in its frst 20 years, and its totalcharitable expenditure or the periodwas £1.2 million. The company struggledthrough World War II and the demandso postwar reorganisation.During the 1950s and 1960s, the Trust’sunding tended to ocus on buildings,laboratories and equipment – notablyelectron microscopes. From the mid-1960s,it began to ocus more on personal grantsto individual scientists, and its undinggrew markedly – as between 1966 and 1986,annual sales o the Wellcome Foundationgrew rom £32m to over £500m. Most o this growth was owing to the astonishingsuccess o George Hitchings and GertrudeElion, who worked or over 30 years at theWellcome Research Laboratories in NorthCarolina. They pioneered ‘rational drugdesign’ – investigating specifc moleculartargets or potential drugs – and theirachievements included the frst evertreatment or leukaemia and the frstimmunosuppressive agent, used or organtransplants. Their work was rewarded withthe 1988 Nobel Prize in Physiologyor Medicine.It is rare or an organisation to have asingle transormative moment. But theTrust had one in February 1986, when itoated the Wellcome Foundation on thestock market. Over the next 15 years, it soldall the shares and became ullyindependent. With the proceeds o thesales, it could diversiy its assets, allowingextraordinary growth. In 1988 its asset basewas £3.4 billion; today it is around £13bn.Annual spending on research was on average£28m in the 1980s; today, it is around £600m– a more than 20-old increase.So these are the bare bones o the story,but what they do not show are thepersonalities that the Trust has workedwith. For we have been privileged to beassociated with and to support the worko many superb scientists. Henry Foy, theTrust’s frst scientifc employee, studiedmalaria in Greece in the 1930s – and wascaptured by bandits at one point whilecollecting mosquitoes – then moved toKenya. His research team eventuallyevolved into our Major OverseasProgramme in Kenya. The sheep studieso Graham ‘Mont’ Liggins led to the nowstandard treatment o giving steroids towomen in premature labour, to help thelungs o preterm babies. Ralph Lainson,unded by us since 1964, has transormedour understanding o leishmaniasis inSouth America. Sir John Sulston led theUK contributions to the Human GenomeProject. Nick White’s pioneering studies o the drug artemisinin have led to its wordwideadoption in treatment or malaria.We plan a range o activities andpublications or 2011 to mark thisanniversary and expand upon some o these individual stories, and I hope thatyou will join with us in celebrating 75extraordinary years.
News | Issue 65
Sir Mark WalportDirector o the Wellcome Trust
Wellcome News
is published our timesa year and is available ree o charge. To subscribe, contact:
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+44 (0)20 7611 8651
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Wellcome News
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Chrissie Giles
Craig Brierley, Chrissie Giles,Mun-Keat Looi, Jen Middleton
Mark Barham
 Assistant Editor
Tom Freeman
David Sayer
Hugh Blackbourn
 All images, unless otherwise stated, are rom theWellcome Library. Copies o images can be obtainedthrough Wellcome Images (images.wellcome.ac.uk).
The Wellcome Trust
We are a global charitable oundation dedicated toachieving extraordinary improvements in human andanimal health. We support the brightest minds inbiomedical research and the medical humanities.Our breadth o support includes publicengagement, education and the application o research to improve health. We are independento both political and commercial interests.
 This is an open access publication and, with theexception o images and illustrations, the contentmay, unless otherwise stated, be reproduced reeo charge in any ormat or medium, subject to theollowing constraints: content must be reproducedaccurately; content must not be used in amisleading context; the Wellcome Trust must beattributed as the original author and the title o thedocument specied in the attribution. The viewsand opinions expressed by writers within
do not necessarily refect those o theWellcome Trust or Editor. No responsibility isassumed by the publisher or any injury and/ordamage to persons or property as a matter o products liability, negligence or otherwise, or romany use or operation o any methods, products,instructions or ideas contained in the materialherein. ISSN 1356-9112. First published by theWellcome Trust, 2010.
Wellcome News
is © theWellcome Trust and is licensed under CreativeCommons Attribution 2.0 UK. The Wellcome Trustis a charity registered in England and Wales, no.210183. Its sole trustee is The Wellcome TrustLimited, a company registered in England andWales, no. 2711000 (whose registered oce is at215 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE, UK).
PU-4737.4/14.2K/11-2010/MBCover: Proessor Sir John Gurdon. See page 12.
EditorialWellcome News
 This document was printed on materialmade rom 25 per cent post-consumer waste & 25 per cent pre-consumer waste. 
Indian initiatives 5Shaping up: the SGC’s 1000 protein structures 8Changing ates: Sir John Gurdon 12Henry Wellcomes Christmas gits 16
Join the
High Society 
2Book Prize winner announced 3 Awards or Trust photographers 4
Obesity drug enters clinical trial 6Scurvy, shark bites and shipwrecks 7Senior Research Fellows update 7
Plant bres and Crohn’s disease 10Genes linked to asthma 11Dissecting macular degeneration 14Making liver cells in the lab 14
Noticeboard 17
News | Issue 65 |
In this issue

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