Karlee Nicklas
Senior Associate, Digital Communications
Karlee Nicklas is the senior communications associate for FasterCures. She joined the organization in 2012 and manages FasterCures social and digital efforts including the execution of the Time Equals Lives campaign dedicated to educating the public about the need for increased funding for medical research.
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Top 5: Philanthropic gifts in 2014

By: Karlee Nicklas
December 23, 2014

FasterCures enthusiastically believes in this statement and has deployed our Philanthropy Advisory Service (PAS) to embody and spread the message. 

The industry saw an 18% increase in philanthropic giving between 2012 and 2013, and stocks in the healthcare sector continue to see growth – they’re even outpacing other sectors like tech and energy. We’re eager to see if this promising trend continues for 2014!

The FasterCures Philanthropy Advisory Service team has stayed on the pulse of this year’s major gifts and their potential for incredible impact. Check out our Top 5 list of exciting investments in medical research:


1. Broad Institute record $650M gift for psychiatric research

The Broad Institute, a collaborative biomedical research center in Cambridge, MA, received a $650 million donation from Ted Stanley to study the biological underpinnings of an array of many brain diseases and disorders including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. This gift is the largest donation ever made to psychiatric research, as it totals nearly six times the current $110 million annual budget for the White House’s BRAIN Initiative. “For the first time, we can start to see the underlying biological basis of the disease,” said Eric Lander, president of the Broad Institute.


2. Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute $275M gift for translational research

Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute received a $275 million pledge from an anonymous donor, to support translational research to develop new treatment options for a number of diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. “Our strategic vision will enable us to speed cures to patients through an expanded network of partnerships with organizations that share our mission to conquer disease,” says Kristiina Vuori, Sanford-Burnham president.


3. Sanford Heath $125M gift to establish genomic initiative for internal medicine

Sanford Health received a $125 million gift from T. Denny Sanford to establishSanford Imagenetics, a pioneering program that aims to integrate genomic medicine into primary care. With his most recent gift, Sanford, a member of the Giving Pledge, has committed nearly $1 billion to the organization. “Thanks to Mr. Sanford’s continued generosity, Sanford Health will take a national lead role in using existing genetic markers and incorporating future discoveries for internists to individualize care for patients with cancer, diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, and other conditions,” said Dan Blue, president of Sanford Clinic.

4. Memorial Sloan Kettering $100M gift for cancer center

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) received a $100 million gift from billionaire private-equity investor Henry Kravis and his wife, Marie-Josée Kravis. MSKCC announced the gift in relation to the official launch of their new Center for Molecular Oncology. “I like to do things that are transformative and more importantly make a difference,” Mr. Kravis said. 

5. Allen Institute $100M gift to investigate cells

With a $100 million gift from philanthropist Paul G. Allen, scientists will begin a new initiative to better understand how cells work and how they malfunction to cause disease by creating animated models of cell parts in action Scientists on the venture say that cell research has the potential to impact a number of illnesses. “Cells are a battleground for every disease known to humankind,” said Allen Institute CEO, Allan Jones.


We’re excited about the impact these sizeable gifts will have, but want to remind our readers that you don’t have to a billionaire to influence science. Though philanthropic giving only accounts for 3% of overall U.S. spending on medical research, its nimble, collaborative, and results-driven approach is transforming the system. Every philanthropic dollar has the opportunity and prospect to make an outsized impact.

“Give early and give often!” as the old saying goes, but add to that by GIVING SMARTLY! To strategically empower yourself to give smartly, ask the following 5 key questions when choosing where to deploy your dollars: 

  1. What disease am I passionate about?
  2. What is the current state of the disease?
  3. What is the state of the research?
  4. What challenges are holding back R&D?
  5. Who else is working in this space? 

Learn more about the importance of informed philanthropic giving in our Giving Smarter guide and on our website at



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