News Release

Milken Institute and Ann Theodore Foundation launch new funding program for sarcoidosis research

Multimillion-dollar program dedicates funds to advance sarcoidosis knowledge; Full Proposals due January 10, 2022

Grant and Award Announcement

Milken Institute

WASHINGTON--(EurekAlert!)--The Milken Institute’s Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Ann Theodore Foundation today announced the launch of a dedicated grant program, the Ann Theodore Foundation Breakthrough Sarcoidosis Initiative, aimed at advancing discoveries to understand and treat sarcoidosis.

Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory condition of unknown causes that can affect any organ in the body. It can cause a wide range of symptoms and can be fatal. While several treatment options for sarcoidosis exist, their efficacy is highly variable. What’s more, a number have detrimental side effects that negatively impact patients’ quality of life. The goal is to fund research with the potential to improve treatment options for affected individuals.

The Fund intends to award up to six research grants in this cycle, providing up to $3.5 million over two years to support pilot research in therapeutic discovery and translational efforts. 

“Sarcoidosis isn’t a rare disease by any means, but its underdiagnosis causes hardship for people all around the world every year,” said Melissa Stevens, executive director of the Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy. “It’s vital to find the researchers who can make progress toward this condition and support their work to ensure those living with sarcoidosis have a fighting chance.”

Sarcoidosis affects 2.3 million Americans, most of them women of color. Hallmarked by clusters of immune cells called granuloma, it can affect any organ in the body, causing fatigue, shortness of breath, organ damage, among other symptoms. Sarcoidosis is sometimes fatal. While sarcoidosis of the lung is most common, granuloma can appear in other parts of the body, causing joint pain, blurred vision, or rashes. There are occupational risks for sarcoidosis, as agricultural workers, metalworkers, and 9/11 first responders show increased rates of sarcoidosis.

“As someone who has lived with sarcoidosis for her entire adult life, I feel encouraged and excited about this new initiative from the Ann Theodore Foundation,” said Carol Lafond, advisor to the Ann Theodore Foundation. “Improved treatment options for sarcoidosis patients need to begin with more and better research. ATF-BSI represents an important step forward for the medical community that gives hope to millions of individuals like me who have suffered in silence for far too long.”

Grant proposals from research institutions around the United States are invited. Optional letters of intent are due November 10, 2021, and full proposals are due January 10, 2022. Funding decisions will be announced in Spring 2022. Inquiries should be directed to

To learn more about sarcoidosis and the grant program, visit:

 About the Ann Theodore Foundation

The Ann Theodore Foundation believes in a world where all children and families have access to opportunities to achieve their goals, regardless of race or socioeconomic status. The Foundation supports a broad range of initiatives, including college scholarships, opportunities for learning and enrichment for young people, food security, climate change mitigation, and research towards a cure and care for people with sarcoidosis. Since 2019, the Ann Theodore Foundation has given nearly $15 million in grants and scholarships across the country. 

About the Milken Institute

The Milken Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that helps people build meaningful lives in which they can experience health and well-being, pursue effective education and gainful employment, and access the resources required to create ever-expanding opportunities for themselves and their broader communities. For more information, visit

About the Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy

The Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy advises individuals and foundations seeking to develop and implement transformational giving strategies. In addition, we provide resources and leadership to make the philanthropic landscape more effective. Our vision is for a more effective philanthropic ecosystem where dollars are spent strategically, donors realize the impact they seek, and people and the planet thrive. Visit


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