Disease-focused Programs


HITI’s first disease-focused programs, in Type 1 diabetes and Crohn’s disease, were made possible through a commitment from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. To launch these programs, we piloted a hybrid approach, using different processes to generate and put forward Requests for Applications (RFA).

  • For Crohn’s disease, we convened a focus group of experts to identify critical roadblocks in the field, issued an RFA based on those questions, and selected seven projects for funding.
  • For Type 1 diabetes, we used crowdsourcing to query forty thousand members of the Harvard community, along with the general public, around the question: What do we still need to know in order to prevent or cure Type 1 diabetes? From 190 suggestions we zeroed in on 12 responses, some from individuals without prior experience or expertise in type 1 diabetes. Proposals for research to explore several of the winning ideas were solicited. Seven were selected for pilot funding.

Both approaches have enabled us to access untapped expertise for the posing and answering of disease-focused questions, and to assemble and nurture new teams and communities for this very different approach to research.

Call to Action

We actively seek new opportunities to establish additional disease-focused programs in immune and inflammatory diseases, and invite the ideas and participation of our academic, industry-based, and philanthropic partners to create new translational research consortia.  Contact us.