No free lunches at the privately funded research table.
Surprisingly there are still articles being written that continue to sow confusion over the foundational finances of the Whittemore Peterson Institute. An important part of the mythology that describes the Whittemore family as saviours of M.E/CFS research and which has been much repeated by enthusiasts of the HGRV (formerly XMRV) hypothesis of M.E/CFS causation, is the proposition that the Whittemore family gave $5 million to the WPI. No such donation was ever made. What is the case, as written on this Blog in February 2011, is that via the Whittemore Family Foundation, something over $1 million was contributed by Annette and Harvey Whittemore University of Nevada as contribution to the building of the University’s Center for Molecular Medicine .
The WPI has accommodation within the CMM building, the basis for this occupancy arrangement is not on public record, although it may be relevant that the WPI donated $100,000 to UofN in 2009. The total cost of the CMM building project was $77million, $16 million of which was met by
tax payers, the balance being met by Nevada financial bonds, together with sums donated by the Whittemore family. Total transfers from the Whittemore Family Foundation to the University of Nevada in the years 2007-2009 amounted to $1,571,168, matched to a number of stated budgetary purposes. University of Nevada
Funding of the WPI, and the meeting of costs of administration and research can be broken down into three main categories, income gained from fundraising activities, funds donated by the Whittemore family, and Federal Research Grants. In 2010/11 a number of Social Network supported grants were also received by the WPI.
Although WPI was created in 2006, its first year of operating was in 2007, when its stated income and was:
- Income: 2007
Public support $37,083
Government Grant $400,00
Bank Interest $1,106
In 2008 WPI’s declared income significantly increased due to additional grant income and a transfer of $540,172 from an entity called the Nevada CFS Foundation (subsequently Neuro-Immune Research Institute), of which Annette Whittemore was listed as President. The source of the NCFSF’s income 2006-2008 was fundraising together with donations from the Whittemore Family Foundation totalling $214,000. The NCFSF contribution was accounted as part of WPI’s 2008 publicly supported funds
- Income: 2008
Fundraising Events $514,685
Public support $739,345
Government Grant $600,000
Bank Interest $8,314
In 2009 WPI declared reduced income from both fundraising events and public support. The Whittemore Family Trust gifted $100,000 to the WPI in 2009, coincidentally the same amount gifted by the WPI to the
. University of Nevada
Fundraising Events $324,720
Public support $287,204
Government Grant $600,000
Bank Interest $7,635
Where’s My Grant ?
The WPI has chosen not to account separately for the various Federal sources of its grant funding, it is not required to do so, however it is good practice for Institutions to be explicit about what funds they have received for what purpose. There is often difficulty in relating grant income to annual accounts because grant periods frequently cut across accounting years. The US Government does helpfully list grants given, by Recipient, in the case of the WPI six grants are currently listed .
In 2008 WPI received $189,667 from the HRSA under award number C76HF09846. transaction date
In 2009 a further $565,290 was paid under the award number with an award date of
Also in 2009 the WPI received the first annual payment of a multi year award from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases(NIAID) under award number R01AI078234 , the payment amount being $335,000 with a transaction date of 24-SEP-2009.
The total amount of Federal Grant awarded to the WPI in 2008/2009 was £1,089,957 which accords reasonably well with the $1,200,000 declared by the WPI , however the declared sum of $400,000 for 2007 does not appear to relate to any Federal award. There is however the matter of $2,000,000 appropriated by the Nevada State legislature for:
“the use of the Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease[sic] “the construction of, and furnishings, and equipment for, a facility relating to the research and treatment of neuro-immune disorders.”
It seems likely that of the $1.6 million declared by the WPI as being ‘received’ Government Grants in the years 2007 - 2009, something in the region of $500,000 came from the
legislature. Nevada State
The NIAID R01AI078234 award was matched with $311,316 from the same source in 2010, and a further $302,866 was due in September 2011. In total, US Federal sources list in excess of $1.7 million having been paid or due to the WPI between 2008 and 2011. The WPI 2010 accounts are not currently available but it is clear that WPI, far from being supported independently of Government as claimed by some commentators, has been heavily dependent on Government funding.
Good People Cost
One aspect of WPI finances that stands out rather strongly is it’s burgeoning wage bill. From just $146,373 in 2007, salaries rose to $354,803 in 2008 and $545,748 in 2009. Dr Mikovits was paid $146,154 in 2008 and $185,000 in 2009, an amount which substantially above comparable norms and a surprisingly large amount given the size of the institution.
* Account information of all
non profit organisations, including for the WPI and WFF, is available from Guidestar in the form of .pdf versions of Form 990 tax returns. The most recent three year’s return are available without cost although registration may be required. US