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Frequently Asked Questions

What sets The Rockefeller University apart?

Rockefeller’s record of achievement in the biomedical sciences results from a unique structure and culture:

  • A laboratory-based organization, free of academic departments, allows exceptional freedom of inquiry.
  • A tradition of collaboration results in interdisciplinary exchange—the cross-fertilization that leads to discovery.
  • A research hospital offers scientists the opportunity to take their discoveries from the lab bench to the bedside.
  • An incomparable faculty attracts the world's most gifted graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.
  • Minimal administrative bureaucracy means more funds committed directly to research.

Why does an institution bearing the Rockefeller name need to seek funds?

The Rockefeller University was established in 1901 through the generosity of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., and over the years the institution has been generously supported by his descendants and various foundations they have established. But today it is not feasible for one family to serve as the sole source of support for a major biomedical research center with an annual operating budget of more than $300 million.

Don't federal grants provide generously for the nation's scientists?

Federal grants in support of specific research projects cover approximately 36% of the University's annual operating costs. No scientific institution can afford to rely exclusively on federal aid, for a number of reasons. The level of this support can fluctuate dramatically from year to year. Most federal grants cannot be used to purchase even the most important research equipment. This is a critical disadvantage as scientific breakthroughs increasingly rely on expensive instrumentation and technology. Finally, federal support for young scientists is extremely limited. Private funding is essential to ensure the future of science through the recruitment of gifted new investigators.

What is the role of the University's endowment in providing for its scientists?

Through prudent investment and the careful management, the University maintains a strong endowment. Rockefeller is one of the most fiscally stable institutions in the nation. Income from The Rockefeller University endowment currently provides 30% of the institution's annual operating costs.

Can my gift really make a difference?

Private gifts and grants make the critical difference in enabling the University to support its research programs, all the more so because the University does not derive substantial income from certain sources that more conventional institutions of its type rely on. It has neither a large base of alumni nor of "grateful patients." Every gift makes a difference.

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