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WHY BASIC SCIENCE? [Alliance News]

Dear members and friends of the Science Philanthropy Alliance, 

Science has never been more important than it is right now during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the number of patients with COVID-19 increasing and the death toll mounting, philanthropists are stepping up to help in new and inspiring ways. Since early March, the Alliance has responded to the needs of the science philanthropy community by working closely with philanthropists to advise them on their COVID-19related science funding decisions.  

In my five years at the Science Philanthropy Alliance, my experience has been that most philanthropists and foundations stay true to their mission. Basic science research funders take the long view on impact. Whether studying bacteria in yeast or microscopic organisms in the ocean, it may be years or decades until new knowledge leads to significant impact on health or society. 

Fortunately the basic science engine that generates new knowledge was what prepared scientists to have the foundational knowledge needed to rapidly learn about this novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. Once the virus was genetically sequenced, scientists were able to use that knowledge to accelerate further research, data collection, and technology development that can lead to diagnostics, therapeutics, and, ultimately, a vaccine. None of this would be possible without basic science funders. 

Over the coming months, we will continue to work with philanthropists to accelerate their funding during this pandemic. We will also be listening and learning about such issues as, when the urgency is to help people today, to save lives now, how should our community respond? What basic science needs to happen now to enable vaccine development, diagnostics, and therapeutics? What information do funders need to feel confident about their funding decisions during a rapidly evolving crisis?  

To learn more about COVID-19-related fundable projects that have been reviewed by our Alliance science staff and senior science advisors, please contact our fellow Bishakha Mona or visit the Alliance COVID-19 Resource Hub. 

Stay home and stay healthy! 

Valerie