Vollum Philanthropic Initiatives need your support!
Vollum Institute leadership is committed to developing funding mechanisms — to support our current faculty members and early career trainees and to recruit and train a more diverse group of research colleagues. Each of the philanthropic initiatives listed below includes cost estimates in conjunction with anticipated program size or scope. Gifts to support these programs at any level are welcome. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, only to provide an idea of the many ways in which you can help further our mission of scientific discovery.
Help advance our research efforts by giving directly to the Vollum Institute
Education and training programs for young scientists
Trainees are the future of the scientific enterprise. Supporting young scientists is one way to help build an amazing legacy.
Two “golden ticket” awards per year will be granted by the Vollum Director/Co-Director to Neuroscience Graduate Program (NGP) applicants that are URM students. Vollum Scholar offers will be made to qualified prospective students during the recruitment process. The award will cover five years of graduate education costs (tuition and overhead, ~$38,000 per year for each student), thereby allowing the student considerable freedom to join any NGP-associated laboratory, and making that student highly attractive to faculty due to cost coverage. At other institutions this has proven extremely helpful in the recruitment of URM students. We envision a mature Vollum Scholars program having 10 enrollees, with approximately two incoming students per year, allowing time for the program to ramp up.
Total cost: ~$200,000 per student for the five-year window
Vollum Fellowships are $5,000 per year awards to each Neuroscience Graduate Program student who successfully obtains independent funding (e.g. NRSA, NSF Fellowship) to cover at least $22,000 of their costs. This award is meant to promote excellence and efforts in grantsmanship — something all trainees will require moving forward — and to reward success. On average, half of the NGP students obtain external funding.
Total cost (for 25 students): $125,000 per year
Many URM students are at a disadvantage when they emerge with undergraduate degrees based on sub-optimal training programs. Postbaccalaureate programs offer the opportunity for a 1–2 year ramp-up in preparation for applying to graduate school. Training includes full-time research opportunities in an established lab, along with augmented coursework and mentoring customized for each student’s specific needs. The overall goal of this program is to make these students highly competitive for graduate school. The OHSU Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) is directed by Letisha Wyatt, PhD and Gary Westbrook, MD; André Walcott, PhD is the program coordinator.
Approximate cost is commensurate with that of a starting lab technician — roughly $48,000 per year in salary and benefits for each trainee. Total number of trainees will vary, but optimally the postbaccalaureate program will have 2–4 trainees per year to help establish a sense of community.
Total cost (for six trainees): $288,000 per year
Postdoctoral scholars are often the most productive members of research groups and can provide essential help in mentoring and training graduate students. Postdoctoral researchers are particularly impactful for junior faculty launching a laboratory who are in need of highly productive and experienced support. This program will fund postdoctoral scholars in Vollum Institute laboratories. Support will be allocated on a year-by-year basis at the discretion of the Director. The goal is to use this mechanism to provide additional support for young faculty, leverage faculty recruitments, and potentially jump-start exciting new research projects for which funding is not available.
Total cost (for one postdoctoral scholar): ~$60,000 per year
Support our research faculty and their labs
Faculty members drive the research programs that lead to discoveries that transform our understanding of science and improve human health through novel therapies. Faculty face a number of challenges in securing funding to support their work. Most financial support is currently funded through grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH budget has been flatlined for many years and is becoming more strained all the time, while the cost of research continues to climb.
Your direct support of faculty members and their research is absolutely essential to keeping OHSU and the Vollum Institute at the forefront of modern molecular neuroscience. Our researchers need philanthropic support now more than ever. Your generosity is the key to innovative discoveries that will further our understanding of disease mechanisms and drive improvements in human health.
Endowing a Chair to support Vollum Institute Faculty is one of the best ways to provide long-term support for our research programs. Endowed Chairs provide flexible funds in perpetuity that can be used by faculty to directly support their research, students or their own salary, depending upon the need. While a range of sizes is possible, a good starting point (assuming a ~5% return per year) is approximately $1 million.
Basic biomedical research evolves at a rapid pace, and we must constantly embrace emergent technologies to stay at the cutting edge of our fields. Most of our current funding mechanisms do not provide support for purchasing large equipment, so we must find other ways to keep our faculty equipped to compete with other top institutions. We need support at a range of levels — from smaller dollar items like electrophysiology rigs ($50,000–100,000) to specialized microscopes ranging from $300,000–750,000.
Vollum Institute faculty are creative scientists and leaders in their fields because they take risks and push their research in new directions. NIH is surprisingly conservative in how it supports scientific research — the most daring projects are shunned — so we continue to search for alternate ways to fund the most innovative, and potentially most impactful, research.
Your generous gift to support a specific research project can be transformative in its impact by enabling the formative work that often leads to NIH funding and significant scientific breakthroughs. The amount of financial support needed varies widely, and depends on the individual research projects, but the Vollum Director can provide you with examples at many levels.