Who we are

Wellcome is a global charitable foundation established in 1936. Through our work we support science to solve the urgent health challenges facing everyone.

We support curiosity-driven research, and we’re taking on three of the biggest health challenges facing humanity – climate change, infectious disease and mental health.

With a £38.2 billion investment portfolio, we give researchers the time and resources they need to make breakthroughs.

We also work with policy makers, run advocacy campaigns, and form partnerships with other organisations to ensure everyone, everywhere benefits from advances in health science. 

Why are we called Wellcome? 

We were founded in 1936 after the death of Sir Henry Wellcome.  

Sir Henry was a pharmaceutical entrepreneur, whose pioneering approach to drug design later inspired the creation of the first leukaemia drug, immune suppressants for organ transplants, and antivirals such as AZT – the first drug approved to treat HIV. 

In his will, he left us three important things: his wealth; his collection of historical medical items; and our mission to improve health through research.

What do we stand for? 

Our perspective on health and how to improve it spans science, innovation, and society.  

We foster collaborative and supportive research environments that give researchers across a range of disciplines – including physical and social sciences, and the humanities – the time and resources they need to be creative and make new discoveries. 

A male researchers reads papers at his desk. A yellow illustrated squiggle is to his left

Research Culture

Diversity and inclusion are essential to achieving our aims, as is involving people with lived experience of the health issues we are exploring.

Everyone who works here has a valuable role to play. We each help to advance Wellcome's strategy and shape our working culture.

Wellcome headquarters in central London

Our Principles

These principles set out what we expect from each other, at every level of the organisation, every day.

How are we governed? 

Our Board of Governors guides and oversees Wellcome in achieving our mission to improve health for everyone.

The Board is responsible for all of our activities, but focuses on our mission, professionalism and people. It regularly and robustly assesses whether we have been successful, and how we got there. 

We are accountable to society for delivering our aims, while using our political independence for public benefit.

How is Wellcome funded? 

Wellcome is an independent charitable foundation. To find out where we get our grant funding from, visit our investments page.

Who works at Wellcome? 

There are hundreds of people from a range of backgrounds who make up our team at Wellcome, each with their own unique perspectives and skills.

Learn more about the people leading our work, and discover our teams.

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Our work so far 

We want researchers worldwide to engage with us, partner with us, and apply for funding for pioneering projects that will help to solve the most pressing health challenges facing humanity. Activities we have supported include:

Supported the formation of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations

CEPI helps fill critical gaps in vaccine funding and research, which was essential to the quick and effective rollout of Covid-19 vaccines globally.

Supported the discovery of single cell sequencing

Led to the creation of the Human Cell Atlas (HCA) – an international consortium that charts the cell types in a healthy body from development, through adulthood, to old age.

Funded Cambridge study on same sex parenting

The evidence generated by the Centre of Family Research project was used to campaign for same-sex marriage in the United States.