Woman drawing on a chalkboard

Making Research Relevant & Ready

Ethel Donaghue gave this foundation the purpose of funding research that would promote knowledge of practical benefit to improve health.  Funding rigorous research is a challenge, but with the assistance of the Foundation’s many advisers we believe that we do a good job on this score.

And what about that part of our purpose that says the knowledge from that research should promote benefit?  That is the real challenge for us and for other funders who exist to see research put to work to improve health.

After two decades of providing over $80 million for research, we’ve learned that we can’t simply hope that the new knowledge from research will somehow be used.  Research needs to be structured in a way that makes it more relevant to a need and ready to provide that benefit.

Of course, there are many types of research, and some research is intended to create knowledge for which the ultimate benefit is distant or still unknown. But for the types of research that we believe Miss Donaghue envisioned, we’ve come to realize that the path to create benefit from research has to start with the research design itself and not wait until after the research is done.

Therefore, our responsibility as a funder is to structure our grant programs so that this can happen.  It means encourages partnerships between researchers, entrepreneurs, and health care providers; using experts in using new knowledge along with experts in creating new knowledge to evaluate funding proposals; and being open to innovations from other fields.

After two decades of working with researchers, their institutions, and other organizations focused on health, we’ve learned that when the research question and the design of its methods are framed with the ultimate user of the innovation in mind, it’s more likely to be relevant and ready for that use.

We invite anyone who shares Miss Donaghue’s vision to join us in this journey. Please contact the Foundation president and co-trustee at garner@donaghue.org