Basic science: A driving force for medical breakthroughs

Basic science, also known as discovery science or translational science, seeks to uncover the biological, genetic and molecular mechanisms of living systems. Through this work, physician-scientists gain critical knowledge of disease processes and ultimately advance medicine and human health.

Basic science transforms undiagnosed health conditions into diseases we can treat and even cure.

The difference your gift can make

Researchers also are drawn to WashU because of its philanthropic community. The School of Medicine has a longstanding tradition of support from donors who embrace the importance of academic medicine and trust that WashU scientists will make breakthrough discoveries that change the course of human health.

NIH funding is possible only after researchers have collected a body of data that shows strength in their hypotheses. Conducting the work that builds that data is often possible because of philanthropy. Visionary donors fuel the creative thinking and risk-taking that keeps WashU at the forefront of academic medicine and leads us ever closer to cures.

Recent breakthroughs made by basic scientists at the School of Medicine include:

  • Discovering the cells involved in the human immune response to cancer.
  • Manipulating genetic pathways to convert one cell type into another.
  • Uncovering an unexpected mechanism by which the immune system influences brain function.
  • Understanding how whole communities of gut microbes play central roles in health and disease.

Why WashU

The School of Medicine is a global force in research. It has one of the highest-ranked and largest MD/PhD programs in the U.S. This program trains the next generation of clinician scientists pursuing academic careers at medical schools and research institutions.

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in research funding in 2021 from the National Institutes of Health, making it one of the highest NIH-funded research enterprises in the country.

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19 Nobel laureates who have ties to the school.

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Additional funding for faculty research from other sources.