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In early 2020 the Medical Sciences Division was suddenly in need of urgent funding for a wide variety of research projects that had the potential to significantly affect the course of the pandemic that was rapidly spreading across the world. In response to our public appeal and the targeted fundraising efforts of the Medical Sciences Development team, huge numbers of donors who believed that Oxford could make a difference, and that our best chance of surviving this deadly disease was to invest in high-quality scientific research, lined up to give us their support. From major philanthropists bestowing multimillion-pound gifts, to fundraising schoolchildren and everyone in between, we have been amazed by the incredible generosity and support that all these hundreds of donors have shown us.

In order to process this large volume of donations that poured in to fund coronavirus-related research projects, the University set up a COVID-19 Research Response Fund, which allowed us to channel all this donated funding through our central Gift Registry to a single place. From here, funding was allocated to research projects that were deemed to be of highest priority in terms of the greatest effect that the results would potentially have on mitigating the devastating impact of the pandemic.

In the space of 18 months the COVID-19 Research Response Fund generated a total of £17.5m, which funded a variety of designated coronavirus-related projects as well as 91 additional COVID research projects across all four academic divisions. On top of this, an additional £15.3m of donated funding was raised to endow two vaccinology professorships and to support our new Pandemic Sciences Institute.

Hundreds of academics have worked tirelessly on research that has huge public interest, and that has already been life-changing and life-saving for millions of people worldwide. Our brilliant researchers have demonstrated, without doubt, that the faith that all our donors put into Oxford was wholly justified.

Over a year after many of these gifts were given, we are keen to report back to our donors with news of what they funded and what was discovered as a result. As part of this process, many researchers whose work was funded by the COVID Research Response Fund very kindly and patiently completed report forms with highlights of their exciting projects – a HUGE thank you to all of you! 

By keeping our donors engaged, and by sharing the journeys of the academics whose work they funded, we can show them our appreciation for their generosity and their shared belief in the importance of our research. Many thanks again to everyone who completed their reports and contributed to our important donor stewardship programme.