Incubator Funds Emerging Research at Broad Institute

An incubator program that supports the work of emerging scientists at the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT also serves as an incubator for emerging philanthropists, the Boston Globe reports.

Launched last September and run by the institute, BroadIgnite enables young professionals who may not be able to give millions of dollars to philanthropic causes — yet — to pool smaller donations in support of up-and-coming scientists at the Broad Institiute conducting high-risk but relatively low-cost research that doesn't qualify for funding from federal agencies like the National Institutes of Health. To date, the program has raised $200,000 from at least twenty donors for five early-career scientists at the institiute.

BroadIgnite grew out of a presentation that Broad Institute president Eric Lander gave at the Baupost Group, a hedge fund run by Seth Klarman, a board member who has given the institute $32.5 million through his Klarman Family Foundation. For fundraisers trying to cultivate new donors, incubator programs provide an opportunity to partner with young professionals who may be new to charitable giving but are positioned to become big donors one day. And for donors, the program holds out the promise that their dollars could contribute to a major breakthrough in science.

"To be clear, $40,000 or $50,000 isn't going to create a breakthrough that's going to cure cancer or diabetes," said Sharmil Modi, an investment analyst at the Baupost Group, though it may help a scientist progress to a more advanced stage of research and qualify for additional funding from more traditional sources. Safraz Ishmael, a lawyer who expects to make a donation to BroadIgnite, told the Globe he views the incubator as "a way to donate to something where you fund a specific person with a specific research goal and see specific results," unlike some types of giving, when "you don't know where your money is going."

Sacha Pfeiffer. "Incubator Backs Emerging Research at Broad Institute." Boston Globe 04/10/2015.