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Stanford University School of Medicine

Why this couple advocates for basic science research

Getting a research project funded is no small feat, but for basic science projects that are curiosity-driven, securing financial support can be especially difficult.

Projects that aim to expand our knowledge about a general topic may sound frivolous to some, but for Debbie and Andy Rachleff, basic science is a necessity. The Rachleffs explain why they're so passionate about basic science research in an article in Stanford’s Medical Center Development's Why Giving Matters.

“Basic science is the foundation of all scientific research,” says Debbie. “If you want the greatest long-term yield for human health, there’s no better investment. It’s not as glamorous as some other kinds of research, but basic science discoveries can be applied across all medical disciplines, providing solutions to all diseases.”

This type of work is "the hardest thing to fund,” Andy says. “Yet it can have the biggest impact. If more people gave to basic science, there would be a lot less incremental improvements in medicine and a lot more breakthroughs.”

The couple made their first charitable donation to Stanford when they funded a microscope for a cancer lab. This microscope bears a name plate in honor Debbie’s friend who died of breast cancer.

More recently they made a $1 million commitment to help support the Stanford Biomedical Innovation Initiative, and Debbie notes that donations of any size have the potential to make an impact. “To a basic science researcher, a little goes a long way; especially in this time of decreasing federal funding."

Previously: When spinal cord injury therapy didn’t arrive, investor turned to medical philanthropy, Cancer survivor’s brother takes on “Death Ride” to benefit breast cancer researchThe value of exploring jellyfish eyes: Scientist-penned book supports "curiosity-driven" research and Funding basic science leads to clinical discoveries, eventually
Photo courtesy of Stanford’s Medical Center Development

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