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A history of funding medical breakthroughs

With the help of all our supporters we have played a significant role in many medical breakthroughs for over 65 years, starting with the development of the first UK polio vaccine. Here are some highlights.

Girl with arm in sling

1962 - Protection for polio

In the 1950s polio was one of the most feared diseases in the world. New cases have been eradicated in the UK thanks to research supported by our founder Duncan Guthrie, whose daughter Janet contracted the disease.

1970 - Immunisation to prevent rubella

Rubella, or German measles, is a viral infection that used to affect hundreds of pregnancies in the UK every year, causing severe birth defects. It is now extremely rare, thanks to a vaccine developed at Great Ormond Street Hospital by a team we helped to fund.

Girl receiving an injection from a doctor

1992 - Protection from meningitis

Our funding helped establish the Hib Vaccine. Since then cases of Hib meningitis – which used to be the main type found in children and young people in the UK – have fallen by more than 98 per cent.

A pioneering fetal heart rate monitor

Tragically, more than 3,200 babies are stillborn every year in the UK. Thanks to funding from Action, a team at the University of Nottingham developed a portable, wireless device that enables continuous monitoring of fetal heart rate, allowing potential problems to be identified far more readily, saving more little lives.