Report summary

Wellcome Science Review 2020

At the end of 2018, Wellcome launched a review to look at the way it funds science. This report presents the main findings. 

Key findings 

  • Wellcome-funded science should enable science and innovation to tackle the greatest threats facing humanity, and it should do so through a broad programme of discovery research, together with research directed at specific health challenges.
  • Three criteria were used to determine the health challenges Wellcome should focus on: the urgency and scale of the threat; the opportunity for Wellcome to lead the way and make a difference; and the ability to harness what differentiates Wellcome from others.
  • Three health challenges were identified based on these criteria: mental health, global heating and infectious diseases. 
  • Each carries the risk of premature disability and death in future generations, and each will be felt most acutely by minorities or resource-poor populations. For each, Wellcome can support a continuum of work  from discovery research to translation and implementation, complemented by advocacy, policy and public engagement.
  • In discovery research, Wellcome should promote a healthy and productive research culture, ensuring that science as a career is open to everyone. By giving researchers the freedom to ask the most exciting questions, supported with career development and good leadership, everyone should benefit from Wellcome-funded research. 


"The Science Review 2020 heralds a significant change for Wellcome." 

Sir Michael Ferguson, Deputy Chair, Wellcome Board of Governors