National Bureau of Economic Research — Innovation Policy Working Group

Open Philanthropy recommended a grant of $467,500 over two years to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) to support its Innovation Policy Working Group, led by Professors Benjamin Jones and Heidi Williams. This funding will support a summer boot camp for PhD students on the economics of innovation, as well as an innovation policy workshop. We believe that these activities could help build the field of innovation economics, which in turn could improve science and innovation policy in the U.S. and other countries.

Kainomyx — Antimalarial Drug (2021)

Open Philanthropy recommended an investment of $4,000,000 in Kainomyx to develop and produce new drugs to treat malaria and other parasitic diseases, such as cryptosporidiosis and toxoplasmosis. If effective, the new drugs would act by inhibiting cytoskeletal proteins in malarial and other parasites. Our science team believes that there is a need for new antimalarial drugs due to increasing resistance to existing treatments.

This follows our May 2020 investment and falls within our work on scientific research, specifically within our interest in advancing human health and wellbeing.

University of Washington — Universal Influenza Vaccines (Neil King)

Open Philanthropy recommended a grant of $3,230,394 over five years to the University of Washington to support work led by Dr. Neil King on the development of universal influenza vaccine candidates. Following our November 2017 support, the researchers in Dr. King’s lab and their colleagues in Dr. Barney Graham’s and Dr. Masaru Kanekiyo’s groups at the National Institutes of Health Vaccine Research Center developed a supraseasonal mosaic nanoparticle vaccine against influenza, which has outperformed commercial influenza vaccines in preclinical trials. This funding is intended to support work to develop additional pan-viral vaccine candidates, with the hope that they will provide potent and broad protection against all influenza A and B viruses.

This falls within our work on scientific research, specifically within our interest in science supporting biosecurity and pandemic preparedness.

UCSF — Chronic Pain Research (Allan Basbaum) (2021)

Open Philanthropy recommended a grant of $1,066,312 over three years to the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), to continue to support basic research, led by Allan Basbaum, on understanding the brain mechanisms that process pain messages and that contribute to the transition from acute to chronic pain after injury. The goal of the research is to contribute to the development of new methods to manage chronic pain.

This follows our August 2018 support and falls within our interest in funding scientific research, and specifically within our interest in advancing transformative basic science.

Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research — Plant Protein Optimization Research


Grant investigators: Chris Somerville and Lewis Bollard

This page was reviewed but not written by the grant investigator. Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) staff also reviewed this page prior to publication.


Open Philanthropy recommended a grant of $250,000 over three years to the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) to support research on optimizing plant protein for use in plant-based meat. This funding is intended to support protein optimization in chickpeas, led by NuCicer. The project was submitted as part of FFAR’s request for proposals, which we co-funded in April 2020.

This falls within our focus areas of scientific research and represents a match of a similar grant from the farm animal welfare program.

Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research — Research on Drought-Tolerant Rice


Grant Investigators: Chris Somerville and Heather Youngs

This page was reviewed but not written by the grant investigators. Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research staff also reviewed this page prior to publication.


Open Philanthropy recommended a grant of $122,500 over three years to support work on CRISPR modifications to increase drought tolerance in Indian rice, a project led by Professor Brian Staskawicz at UC Berkeley. It’s our understanding that sporadic drought has caused Indian rice yields to become erratic, which has negative impacts on the livelihood of about 100 million small farmers. The proposed experiments will exploit recent advances in genome editing. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) plans to match our support, and we intend this funding to support the research of PhD student Nicholas Karavolias. A portion of the funding supports Nicholas’s inclusion in the FFAR Fellows Program, a three-year leadership and professional development program for 22 PhD students in the agricultural and life sciences.

This follows our October 2018 support to UC Berkeley and falls within our work on scientific research.

 

The grant amount was updated in May 2022.

Penn State University — Research on Emergency Food Resilience (Charles Anderson) (2020)

Penn State Emergency Food Resilience team is working to identify and test foods that will help people survive and thrive after a major global catastrophe. (Photo courtesy of Penn State University.)

Grant investigator: Jacob Trefethen

This page was reviewed but not written by the grant investigator. Penn State University staff also reviewed this page prior to publication.


Open Philanthropy recommended a grant of $3,064,660 over four years to Penn State University to support research led by Professor Charles T. Anderson and colleagues on the production of food from unconventional sources following a global catastrophe, such as an all-out nuclear war, large asteroid strike, or supervolcano eruption. This funding will support research to identify plant-based resources that could grow in post-catastrophic climate conditions, develop strategies for emergency food production, analyze potential impacts of post-catastrophic foods on human health, and predict and develop household, community, and market responses to globally catastrophic disasters.

This follows our June 2019 support, falls within our work on scientific research, and is related to our efforts to reduce global catastrophic risks. Our interest in emergency foods first came from encountering the work of David Denkenberger and his colleagues at the Alliance to Feed the Earth in Disasters.

Penn State University — Emergency Food Research (Charles Anderson)

Penn State student Liam Farrell (left) and research technologist Melissa Ishler (right) measuring plants grown in an indoor growth room (Photo courtesy of Penn State University.)

Grant investigator: Chris Somerville and Heather Youngs

This page was reviewed but not written by the grant investigator. Penn State University staff also reviewed this page prior to publication.


The Open Philanthropy Project recommended a grant of $109,063 to Penn State University to support Professor Charles Anderson’s research on production of food from unconventional sources in a situation of low global insolation. This funding will support a team of faculty and graduate, undergraduate, and postdoctoral students to develop a proposal outlining possible future research projects that might alleviate food shortages following a great power war or similar event leading to nuclear winter.

This falls within our work on scientific research and is related to our efforts to reduce global catastrophic risks.