The Health Research Alliance sponsored a national conference every other year from 2004 – 2008. These national conferences were open to a wide variety of funders of health research and training. The HRA national conference represented the only national forum for non-governmental, non-profit funders of health research and training, including foundations, voluntary health agencies, and disease-specific funders. In early 2009, the HRA Board of Directors voted to postpone the national conference originally scheduled for the spring of 2010, because of the economic recession’s continuing effects on funders of health research and training. In addition to the national conference, HRA organizes two Members’ Meetings a year that are hosted by member organizations. With the growth in the membership of the Alliance, the Members’ Meetings have become more significant events, including both external and member speakers. Although the Alliance may convene a national conference in the future on a specific topic, there are no plans at present to resume the biennial schedule for organizing national conferences.

The 2008 HRA National Conference, “Accelerating Medical Discovery Through Strategic Philanthropy,” was held March 4-6, 2008, at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, D.C Attended by approximately 150 representatives of 65 different funding organizations, the conference focused on the themes of New Science for Discovery and Translation, Strategic Philanthropy, and Developing Best Practices for Health Research Grantmaking. Plenary speakers included Leroy Hood, Ph.D., Co-Founder and President of the Institute for Systems Biology, Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., then Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, and William Haseltine, Ph.D., founder and former CEO of Human Genome Sciences and President of the Haseltine Foundation for Medical Sciences and the Arts. The conference proceedings are available here.

HRA thanks the Program Committee members below for planning an excellent conference.


  • William Galey, Ph.D., Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  • Marc Hurlbert, Ph.D., Avon Foundation


  • Maria Carrillo, Ph.D., Alzheimer’s Association
  • Lynne Garner, Ph.D., The Donaghue Foundation
  • Sharon Hesterlee, Ph.D., Muscular Dystrophy Association
  • Sally McNagny, M.D., M.P.H., The Medical Foundation
  • Concepcion Nierras, Ph.D., Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International
  • William Read, Ph.D., The Flinn Foundation
  • Nancy Sung, Ph.D., Burroughs Wellcome Fund
  • Melanie Turner, M.P.H., American Heart Association
  • Kate Ahlport, M.S.P.H., Health Research Alliance, Inc.

Health Research Alliance 2006 National Conference, “Building Strategic Partnerships to Advance Health Research”

The 2006 HRA National Conference, “Building Strategic Partnerships to Advance Health Research” held at the Westin Grand Hotel in Washington, D.C. on May 3-4, 2006, was attended by representatives of over 50 funding organizations as well as by representatives of government agencies, universities, and other organizations. The conference proceedings provide a summary of each conference session.

Health Research Alliance 2004 National Conference, “Partnering to Advance Health Research: Philanthropy’s Role”

The previous Alliance national conference, held in March of 2004,“Partnering to Advance Health Research: Philanthropy’s Role,” was attended by representatives of over 70 organizations that fund health research. Keynoted by Dr. Elias Zerhouni, Director of NIH, Dr. Richard Carmona, US Surgeon General, and Dr. Clement Bezold of the Institute for Alternative Futures, the meeting examined how different types of partnerships can move health research forward from the laboratory bench to the end result of improved health outcomes. In the time that has elapsed since that conference, the funding environment has become more challenging, and the need for creative partnerships has increased.