More Support from Our Friends

October 1, 2010
Randy Schekman, Director of the BSA, reflects on the current state of the Fund

I am pleased to report continuing success in raising funds to offer more Jane Coffin Childs fellowships. Fortunately, other private and corporate funds share our vision of the importance of fellowship support for the benefit of highly accomplished postdoctoral scholars irrespective of nationality. This past year, we have secured several additional funded positions from the Anna Fuller Fund and Merck Corporation. For the current year, we were able to provide support for twenty-three new fellows, up from the eight- een we funded last year. And as our endowment grows, the Board of Managers has agreed to increase that number from our own resources. My hope in the coming years is to restore our annual allocation to thirty new fellows.

The Anna Fuller Fund, also headquartered at Yale, had a vibrant but small grants program to support fellows throughout the country. Two of their notable past awardees were Nobelists, Sidney Altman and Elizabeth Blackburn. Given the small size of their endowment, the trustees decided some years ago to suspend a national competition in order to focus support for a few positions at Yale and MIT. However, after our former Chair of the Managers, William Gridley, visited the Chair of their Trustees, the Fund reconsidered and agreed to support two or more Jane Coffin Childs fellows in the area of basic cancer research each year. Our first two such appointments have now been made. We are particularly grateful to Vin Marchesi, the Scientific Director of the Anna Fuller Fund, for his spirit of collaboration.

Last year, in the aftermath of the stock market plunge, Merck Corporation chose to withdraw postdoctoral support as they reconsidered their educational goals. Merck has now decided to focus funding on what they consider the best investment, postdoctoral support at the most selective private agencies. And the great news for us is that they have agreed to fund two new JCC fellows each year instead of the one they granted before the recession.

This has been a busy and exciting year for current and past members of our Board of Scientific Advisors. We were thrilled with the news from Stockholm that three of our former members (Liz Blackburn, Carol Greider, and Tom Steitz) were awarded prizes in Physiology or Medicine and Chemistry. We now count 21 Nobel Laureates among the former fellows, grantees, and members of our Board. I also wish to acknowledge the spirited contributions of Peter Cresswell, Carol Greider and Charles Sherr who stepped down from the Board this year. In the coming year we will welcome new Board members Steven Elledge (Harvard Medical School) and Anjana Rao (La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology). They join an extraordinarily talented group that is a privilege for me to serve.