Medical Research

We advance scientific discovery and human health by investing in Boston’s most promising early-career scientists and leading institutions as they work at the forefront of biomedical innovation.

  • We fund two award programs to support scientists at critical points of career development
  • We fund catalytic efforts to develop new diagnostic and treatments for under-funded diseases

Grants in this area are by invitation only.

Early-Career Awards

Since 1992, we have awarded a total of $46.4 million to 208 biomedical investigators.

These awards are particularly important as government-funded support for early-career investigators continues to decline.

Excellence Awards

The Smith Family Awards Program for Excellence in Biomedical Research supports promising pre-tenure researchers as they establish their first independent lab.

Odyssey Awards

The Smith Family Foundation Odyssey Award program supports highly innovative pre-tenure researchers to pursue unorthodox inquiries.

“In biomedical research, what you really need are young people at the peak of their creativity, intellect, and energy to swing for the fences.”

Ramesh Shivdasani, MD, PhD, Dana-farber cancer institute, 1997 Excellence awardee

Susan F. Smith Center Living Biobank

For over 70 years and across four generations, our family members and foundation have actively supported the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, including gifts totaling more than $100 million.

In 2017, we made a $2.5 million gift in memory of Susan Smith to help create a Living Biobank (PDF) to develop therapeutic ovarian cancer models at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers.

The biobank expands the use of research models known as organoids to shortcut drug development and, ultimately, personalize treatments for the approximately 80 percent of women treated for ovarian cancer who do not respond to first-line therapies.

“Sue Smith believed Dana-Farber could work miracles for women’s cancers. Her many efforts championing Dana-Farber’s vital work were among her proudest accomplishments.”

richard smith, foundation chair emeritus and dana-farber trustee

Food Allergy Science Initiative

Through a $3 million gift, we support researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, its partner institutions, and Yale to tackle the science of food allergies, a growing public health threat.

Food allergy threatens the lives of 31 million people in the U.S. and more than 220 million people worldwide. Two-thirds of those affected are children.

The Food Allergy Science Initiative (FASI) aims to accelerate the pace of discovery and enable the development of new diagnostics and treatments.

Still frame from Food Allergy Science Initiative's interactive graphic. Discover how we may find treatment before an allergic reaction occurs.

Between 1997 and 2011, food allergies in children increased by 50%. Forty percent of elementary school children with food allergy are at risk of life-threatening reactions.

food allergy science initiative