Burroughs Wellcome Fund and Triangle Community Foundation are forever linked - Dr. George Hitchings, our founder, served as the Fund's president from 1971-1990. Since that time several former employees of Burroughs Wellcome Fund have become fundholders, and the Foundation also has two endowment funds as well as a scholarship fund that bear Dr. Hitchings' name. We are grateful for this generous partnership.
To some, the name Burroughs Wellcome represents a historical leader in Research Triangle Park, the Burroughs Wellcome Company. To others, Burroughs Wellcome stands for a legacy of strong support for STEM education. And for early-career scientists, the Burroughs Wellcome name connects to a prestigious foundation award that funds research in the frontiers of greatest need. To bind together this historic leadership, ongoing educational support, and forward-looking research, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund logo pays tribute to the past, present, and future of the Burroughs Wellcome name.
In the logo, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund (BWF) name in modern san serif font envelops the eye of Horus, an Egyptian symbol for the god of medicine and wellness. From its inception, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund has used the eye of Horus as its insignia. In Egyptian mythology, Horus fought with Set, the demon of evil, and lost an eye, which was miraculously restored. As a result, the eye of Horus became a symbol of health and strength. Ancient Egyptians wore the eye of Horus as an amulet to confer vitality on the wearer as well as the strength of the noonday sun. While the BWF logo has had several incarnations, the first drew its design from an eye of Horus crafted for the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum in London. Since then, the BWF logo has become simpler and more stylized, but still carries the meaning and historical context of the organization it represents.
Though the BWF has been independent of the Burroughs Wellcome Co. for nearly three decades, the foundation draws its identity from the original company’s history. Silas Burroughs and Henry Wellcome met as students in Philadelphia’s College of Pharmacy, and together they embarked to England to establish the original Burroughs, Wellcome, and Co. in 1880. The company quickly became known for its innovative research, discovery, and marketing tactics. Among them was creating medicine in the compressed form of a “tabloid” instead of the potions and powders at the turn of the century. Burroughs died in 1895 and Wellcome maintained sole ownership of the company until his death in 1936, when the company fell under the ownership of the Wellcome Trust, established by his will.
Founded in 1955 as an American extension of the Wellcome Trust, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund was the philanthropic endeavor of the Burroughs Wellcome Co. At that time, the company (and the Fund) was based in Tuckahoe, NY. In 1970, Burroughs Wellcome Co. was one of the first major companies to establish a presence in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, opening a state-of-the-art research facility the following year. This early commitment to the Triangle helped attract other pharmaceutical and biotech companies to RTP, and the company was a pillar of that community for 24 years.
Since its founding, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund has been a national leader in science and philanthropy. In 1993, the Wellcome Trust granted the BWF a $400 million endowment to maintain the legacy of the Burroughs and Wellcome names in North America. Shortly after, the Trust divested their holdings in the global companies and became the world’s largest philanthropy at the time.
This created a new era for the BWF. The foundation had a long-standing tradition of awarding grants to researchers and scientists in the biomedical sciences, enabling them to fund innovative projects and help advance the careers of early-stage scientists. The new endowment enabled the foundation to continue that mission on a much larger scale. The logo serves as a reminder of this legacy, emphasizing the importance of research, exploration, and discovery. As the BWF continues to support scientific research and advance the field of biomedical sciences, its logo remains a powerful reminder of its commitment to exploration, discovery, and the betterment of society through scientific inquiry.
Today, the BWF has been present in the Triangle area longer than the Burroughs Wellcome Co. was. As the Burroughs Wellcome Fund powers discovery in frontiers of greatest need, funding research in fields ranging from climate change to STEM education, the BWF name and logo will continue to stand for the past, present, and future of Research Triangle Park.