Freedom To Discover
Unrestricted Biomedical Research Grants and Awards Program
For nearly three decades, Bristol-Myers Squibb and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation have supported a unique approach to basic research — unrestricted, no-strings-attached grants in what eventually was seven areas of scientific interest. Back in 1977, when the program began, it was clear that support that was free of restrictions was needed to help advance biomedical science at the basic research level. Bristol-Myers Squibb was there, helping in a pioneering approach.
The seven therapeutic areas of research included cancer, neuroscience, infectious diseases, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, nutrition and synthetic organic chemistry. The idea from the outset was to encourage cutting edge research, without attaching bureaucratic strings or entanglements to the basic research process, so that scientists could do what they should do best—explore the unknown, follow risky hunches, and ultimately follow their dreams—all for the ultimate benefit of improving health and advancing life.
The program has primarily encompassed five-year, $500,000 unrestricted grants, as well as annual distinguished achievement awards, honoring the best in each scientific field. They were selected by grant recipients in each program.
2006 was the final year of the Freedom to Discover program. Beginning in 2007, no new grants or awards will be awarded. Active unrestricted grants will be honored until the grants are completed.
This decision results from an intensive review of the company's philanthropic programs against the backdrop of a changing regulatory and healthcare environment as well as growing societal needs. As a result of an increase in compliance regulations affecting the global pharmaceutical industry, certain giving programs, including this one, have become more difficult to support. Instead, the company and the Foundation will use resources strategically to build on lessons learned in landmark programs like SECURE THE FUTURE® for women and children affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa. The aim is to make a significant difference at the community level in addressing the health disparities that impede the ability of people around the world to take advantage of the great innovations scientists and researchers in programs like Freedom to Discover have helped to develop.
The company is proud of the impact made with Freedom to Discover, the model it has set, the legacy it has created and the contributions that have resulted. During the course of its nearly 30 year history, the Freedom to Discover Grants and Awards program has encouraged new directions by outstanding scientists and recognized pioneering achievements by some of the best thinkers in their fields.
You are welcome to review the fact sheets and history of this innovative program.