WASHINGTON-Robert J. Glaser has begun a five-year adventure in philanthropy to extend the frontiers of basic medical research in the United States. Only institutions doing the most innovative and important work need apply, but for those talented few scientists the sky’s the limit.

Glaser is director for medical science at the Lucille P. Markey Charitable Trust, formed after the 1982 death of the owner of Calumet Farms, the Kentucky thorough-bred racing and breeding stable. She stipulated that within 15 years the Miami-based foundation must exhaust its endowment, expected to reach nearly $400 million, in support of basic medical research.

Last month the trust announced its largest round of grants. Eleven universities will receive $75 million over the next five years for new research programs, staff, major facilities and related activities. The University of California at San Francisco topped the list, with $13.7 million to reorganize its research and teaching programs...

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