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Impact and History

Since its founding in 1965, the PhRMA Foundation has funded more than 2,700 scientists across more than 300 institutions. In the process, the Foundation has helped to catalyze scientific careers and grow new fields of research.

Establishing the Foundation

In the fall of 1962, in the wake of the thalidomide tragedy, the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (the trade association now known as PhRMA) established the Commission on Drug Safety to bring together the best available talent to rebuild public trust in medicine, coordinate U.S. drug safety information, and make recommendations on areas in need of attention.

Among its many recommendations, the commission suggested establishing a foundation for “the promotion of the public health through the study and development of the science of therapeutics.” On May 31, 1965, the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association Foundation was established.

The initial focus of the Foundation was twofold:

  • Support fundamental research in toxicology
  • Support the research and training of personnel in the fields of clinical pharmacology and drug evaluation

What is needed, and what the Foundation hopes to provide, is consistent, patient effort, with an element of imagination and boldness in seeking advances of significance.

1965 Annual Report, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association Foundation

Fostering New Fields

From the beginning, the Foundation was intended to be flexible and adaptable, allowing the organization to adjust course to meet changing scientific needs. This approach has allowed the Foundation to help seed and grow emerging areas of research over time. Initially, the Foundation played a vital role in conceiving those in the field of toxicology to build scientific rigor around medication safety and worked collaboratively to further develop the field. Today, toxicology plays a critical role in understanding the safety of new medicines in the earliest stages of development.

More recently, the Foundation has helped advance the fields of health outcomes research and value assessment, recognizing the importance of evaluating the effectiveness and value of new medicines. Through its grant programs and centers of excellence, the Foundation supports efforts to develop tools and frameworks for understanding the value of medicines and other health care services. This work helps move the U.S. health care system toward a more value-driven approach that balances scientific evidence and patient preferences while ensuring health care dollars are well spent.

Today, the Foundation awards grants and fellowships in the areas of drug discovery, drug delivery, translational medicine, and value assessment and health outcomes research.

Our Impact


In research funding


Researchers awarded


Research institutions funded

Developing the Scientific Workforce

The Foundation’s grantmaking activities fund promising research conducted by up-and-coming scientists across the U.S., helping to build and train a workforce to support the ever-changing needs of the biopharmaceutical sector. Most Foundation grants fund scientists and researchers early in their careers, including graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and new faculty members. Through its grant programs, the Foundation also seeks to reduce disparities in scientific research funding. Roughly half of our recent grantees are women and roughly half are people of color. These early-career funding opportunities help boost these individuals’ ability to attract subsequent research grants.

PhRMA Foundation grants have supported many successful scientists who have gone on to achieve impressive careers in academia, industry, and government. Among PhRMA Foundation grant recipients are Arthur Hayes, MD (former FDA commissioner), Craig Venter, PhD (entrepreneur), Stephen Spielberg, MD, PhD (NIH scientist and former FDA Deputy Commissioner), Raymond Woolsey, MD, PhD (founder, Critical Path Institute and Professor of Bioinformatics at University of Arizona), Susan Band Horowitz, PhD (Professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine who discovered Taxol).