The Ellison Medical Foundation has for the past fifteen years or so acted much like an extension of the National Institute on Aging, channeling philanthropic funding from Larry Ellison into investigations of the biology of aging. This has been mainstream work with little to no involvement in efforts to extend life. The Ellison Medical Foundation didn't come about because Larry Ellison has any great interest in aging research, however: the interest was in furthering molecular biology, and the study of aging just happens to be a field in which a lot of cutting edge molecular biology takes place. By the sound of it the Foundation is moving on into a new phase of existence:
Oracle Corp. founder Larry Ellison's medical foundation - one of the leading funders for research on aging over the past 15 years - has stopped making new grants and may shift its focus beyond medical research. In all, the Ellison Medical Foundation has awarded nearly $430 million in grants since its founding in late 1997. Perhaps 80 percent to 90 percent of that money went to aging researchers.
The foundation is not endowed by Ellison. Instead, Ellison varies his annual gift to the foundation, which this year will fund $53 million in new and continuing grants, the bulk of those for aging research projects. Already-awarded grants will continue to be funded, but the foundation will not make new awards. "There are some other activities planned for the foundation. It may be broader and outside the medical research sphere - not to say medical research wouldn't be a component."
The foundation's pullback from aging research is particularly perplexing, given the entrance of Calico, which is led by former Genentech Inc. chief Art Levinson, and the attention that Google's involvement has brought to the field of aging research. Some researchers have said that Calico's entré would give private foundation grants more oomph and attract other funders.