History

Founded in 1976, Seattle Biomedical Research Institute is Seattle’s first global health organization. We’ve grown to be the largest independent, non-profit organization devoted solely to infectious disease research. With about 250 staff members, we tackle the world’s most devastating diseases and focus on developing new solutions.

In 1976, Ruth Shearer, Ph.D. and Ken Stuart, Ph.D., set up a research laboratory in Issaquah, WA, a suburb of Seattle, to create an environment where the best and brightest scientists from around the world could come together to combat deadly parasitic diseases. Originally called the Issaquah Group for Health and Environmental Research, the name was soon changed to Issaquah Health Research Institute. Scientists at the Institute studied parasites, including ones that cause malaria and African sleeping sickness, and their efforts soon gained recognition around the world.

Institute Continues Growth

Stuart was invited to advise the World Health Organization about future research into tropical diseases in 1980, marking the Institute's rise into international significance. The first postdoctoral scientists joined the Institute in 1982. In 1986, the Institute relocated to Seattle and became Seattle Biomedical Research Institute. 

Seattle BioMed formalized a long-standing affiliation with the University of Washington in 1992, which strengthened training programs and offered our faculty positions at one of the U.S.’s top research universities.

At the end of the decade, Seattle BioMed had more than 80 full-time employees, and research revenue had increased from $2.7 million in 1991 to more than $8 million in 2001. Seattle BioMed received its first sizable grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to establish its malaria program in 2001.

Sustainable Business Model

Today, Seattle BioMed is an internationally recognized center for research and training excellence with connections from Seattle to more than 100 partners and collaborators around the world.

From our original strip mall days to today, staff size has grown from five to about 250, made possible by Seattle BioMed's move into a state-of-the-art research facility in South Lake Union in 2004. With an annual budget in excess of $25 million, Seattle BioMed has a sustainable business model, having diversified its funding sources to include a mix of government grants, private foundation grants and individual donors.

Major Scientific Expansion, New Leadership

On January 1, 2012, Alan Aderem, Ph.D., became president of Seattle BioMed - only the second in its more than 35-year history, but following in the pioneer spirit and entrepreneurial focus that has made Seattle BioMed a true leader in global health research.

In a bold plan for scientific expansion and leadership for the future, Aderem is guiding the implementation of a revolutionary systems biology approach to infectious disease research. Seattle BioMed is now positioned as the only institute in the world with infectious disease research and systems biology fully integrated in one building.

Seattle BioMed Founder Ken Stuart remains in an active role at Seattle BioMed as President Emeritus, Founder and Full Professor. Stuart is focusing on his research, while mentoring the next generation of scientists and advocating for scientific research and improving global health.