Ethel Donaghue gave this foundation the purpose of funding research that would promote knowledge of practical benefits to improve health. Funding rigorous research is a challenge, but putting research to work to improve health is an even greater challenge.

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, the path to creating benefit starts with the research design itself and doesn’t wait until after the research is completed.

Therefore, our responsibility as a funder is to structure our grant programs so that this can happen. It means encouraging 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 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 on this journey. If interested, please contact the Foundation president at