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The William Harvey Research Foundation is seeking new funds to boost pharmacological research through innovative projects that accelerate the discovery of new treatments. The Foundation was established in 1990 as the medical research charity of the William Harvey Research Institute. Nobel Laureate Sir John Vane founded the Institute in 1986 at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical College. Sir John was a pre-eminent leader of therapeutic innovation, making many contributions to medicines in common use across the world.

Today the Foundation continues to support pioneering fundamental research, targeting the discovery of new treatments to address unmet clinical needs in cardiovascular disease and inflammation. Underlying inflammation is also a factor in cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and stroke) and rejection of transplanted organs, as well as in joint diseases such as arthritis and rheumatism, so research on novel anti-inflammatory drugs has a potential impact on all these clinical areas. Another important area of research supported by the Foundation is the early detection and prevention of rare congenital diseases.

The William Harvey Research Institute is an internationally recognised centre of excellence, ranked among the Top 20 Pharmacological Research Institutions in the world. It is the largest centre in the UK focused on pharmacological investigation of disease mechanisms and co-ordinates the study of inflammatory disease across the UK. It also undertakes fundamental research as part of one of the largest centres for cardiac patient care in Europe.

The Foundation’s fundraising role is now more important than ever. Over the last two decades patent expiries for blockbuster drugs have led to substantial reductions in industrial research and new drug development. As a result there has been a substantial decline in pharmaceutical company R&D pipelines and a significant cutback in new drug discovery programmes. This, together with increasingly stringent regulations enforced by global regulatory authorities such as the US Food and Drugs Administration and the European Medicines Agency, has meant that the number of innovative new drug introductions has steeply declined. Medical charities are therefore playing an increasingly important role in supporting research leading to the development of novel therapeutic approaches.

The Foundation is distinct from other medical research charities in having a primary focus on promoting early-stage research on inventive new ideas with the potential to lead to the discovery of new medicines, which can initiate a step-change in pharmaceutical innovation. In addition to the need for medicines across multiple medical areas where no (or only palliative) treatments are available, discovering safe and effective medicines to improve health and quality of life for an increasingly elderly population has become one of the most important medical challenges for the 21st century.

Maintaining this research momentum for the discovery of innovative treatments requires funding. The Foundation is now fundraising to advance exciting new research projects and the development of first-in-class medicines at the William Harvey Research Institute.

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