Amid controversy surrounding its sole supporter and namesake, pharmaceutical supplier Burroughs Wellcome Co., the Burroughs Wellcome Fund strives to fulfill the policy set by its founders 34 years ago. Under a logo depicting the watchful eye of Horus, the Egyptian god of medicine, the fund supports research and educational efforts in medical science.

In its first fiscal year, 1955-56, the fund gave out $5,800. Since then, the grant amounts approved each year have grown significantly. In the past fiscal year, 1988-89, the fund approved awards totaling more than $5.7 million, almost a 1,000-fold increase over the initial endowment. The capability to give reflects its benefactor’s ability to get, since the foundation’s coffers are stocked entirely out of the drug company’s profits (see accompanying graph). Last year, the company donated $5 million to the fund, as opposed to the $160,000 it donated back in 1955-56.

But it is the Research Triangle...

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