Research Scholars

The Massachusetts General Hospital Research Scholars program provides funding for forward-thinking researchers.

Sylvie Breton

Sylvie Breton, PhD, a Charles and Ann Sanders Research Scholar.

Supporting Visionary Thinkers

The Massachusetts General Hospital Research Scholars program was started to provide forward-thinking researchers with the funding they need to take their work into new and uncharted territories.

Typically, scientists are dependent on funding from organizations like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to carry on their research. This is a time-consuming process, and the NIH rarely provides funding for projects that have little supporting data.

One of the hospital’s longtime aspirations has been to provide support for exceptional researchers whose work is not readily funded by the NIH or other sources.

History has often demonstrated that talented scientists who are given free rein to explore new frontiers are the ones who make the greatest advances.

The Research Scholars Fund

To make those advances possible, the Research Scholars Fund was established in 2011 with a $10 million fund from an anonymous donor.

The donation was set up as as a matching fund—for each $500,000 contributed to the fund, the donor will match the amount up to $10 million.

Those who donate $500,000 or more have the opportunity to name an award, and enter into a unique partnership with the researcher that they sponsor.

The funds can be used to expand the scope of existing research, purchase new equipment, hire additional researchers or otherwise support the investigative efforts of our Research Scholars.

Scholar Funds in Action

Sylvie Breton, PhD, a Charles and Ann Saunders Research Scholar, has used her Research Scholar funding to evolve her research from its original focus on male fertility to a much broader study of organ systems.

The expanded scope enabled by the scholar funds has allowed Breton to make the unexpected discovery that CFTR—the protein that is mutated in cystic fibrosis—is not only a chloride channel, but a master regulator of embryonic development.

Breton is postulating that CFTR mutations weaken mature organs, making them more susceptible to injuries. This would explain the progressive nature of cystic fibrosis.

Breton was one of five Research Scholars named in the inaugural class of 2011. In 2012, eight more research scholars were added to the program, followed by seven scholars in 2013, eight scholars in 2014 and another eight in 2015. There are now a total of 36 investigators receiving scholar funding.

To learn more about the Research Scholars program or to find out how you can support these visionary thinkers, please contact Kate Gutierrez in our development office at

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