Flexible resources maximize public health impact

Photos: Kent Dayton / Harvard Chan
Photos: Kent Dayton / Harvard Chan

Monell Foundation dedicated to unrestricted giving at HSPH

Flaminia Catteruccia wonders: Is it possible to fight malaria by making the mosquitoes that spread the disease sterile?

William Mair wants to know: Can we identify the molecular mechanisms that increase people’s disease susceptibility in old age—and thus more effectively treat disorders such as Alzheimer’s or cancer?

Catteruccia and Mair are just two examples of junior faculty members who have benefited from unrestricted gifts received from generous donors and distributed at the Dean’s discretion in recent years. Dozens of junior faculty members, postdoctoral fellows, visiting scholars, and researchers across the School have also benefited, along with departments, research studies, and programs such as Defeating Malaria: From the Genes to the Globe, the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights, the Center for Global Tobacco Control, and many more. Discretionary funds are also a critical source of financial aid for students.

The Ambrose Monell Foundation has long recognized that one of the most effective ways to expand the impact of Harvard School of Public Health is by contributing unrestricted funds, which allow Dean Julio Frenk to respond quickly to emerging opportunities, invest in pioneering new initiatives, and sustain important projects when there are gaps in funding from other sources. The foundation has been a loyal supporter of HSPH since the early 1980s and for the past 24 years has made an annual unrestricted gift to the School of at least $500,000. To date, the foundation has made gifts to the School in excess of $17 million.

Foundation President Ambrose Monell says the foundation first learned about HSPH during the deanship of Howard Hiatt, when Harvey Fineberg—who would later become dean himself—applied for a grant. “We were impressed by his presentation and continued to support Harvey’s research through the years,” says Monell. “By the time Harvey became dean, our relationship was such that we felt perfectly comfortable making the grant available to him to distribute, at his discretion, to various HSPH projects. We felt that Harvey was in the best position to assess where the grant money was most needed and to apply it accordingly—and we have placed the same level of trust in his successors: Interim Dean James Ware, Dean Barry Bloom, and Dean Julio Frenk.”

Unrestricted funding also provides key support for fields of inquiry for which there may be few federal research dollars available. “It is often in neglected areas that great discoveries are made,” Monell says.

“The long-standing support of the Monell Foundation has helped the School in immeasurable ways,” says Dean Frenk. “Such unrestricted funding sustains a mix of activities that are critical to ensuring the health of the School, and a healthy future for people all over the world.”

– Karen Feldscher

Photos: Aubrey Calo / HSPH, Kent Dayton / HSPH

Download a PDF of Flexible resources maximize public health impact