Annie De Groot Family Fund

Annie De Groot, MD, is an internationally-known researcher who has chosen to make Rhode Island her home since 1993 when she joined the faculty of the Brown University Medical School (now the Warren Alpert Medical School) and established the TB/HIV Research Laboratory there.

An outgrowth of the work she did at that laboratory was EpiVax, an immunology company that is now 23 years old. EpiVax applies its tools to re-engineer therapeutic proteins and to design new vaccines. She also helped found two nonprofit organizations, the GAIA Vaccine Foundation in 2001 and Clinica Esperanza / Hope Clinic in 2007. All three organizations have expanded 10 to 20 fold in terms of breadth of activities, income, and employees, since inception.

GAIA (Global Alliance to Immunize Against AIDS) supports the development of a “globally relevant, globally accessible” AIDS vaccine, while Clinica Esperanza is a community clinic that offers free medical care and preventive health services to Rhode Islanders who do not have, and cannot afford, health insurance.

Annie remains deeply involved with both nonprofits, serving as scientific director at GAIA and volunteer medical director at Clinica Esperanza. She notes, “I would like to use the funds that I set aside in the family funds to challenge these organizations and employees to start thinking more about raising funds for the period after I am not there to encourage them.”

She continues, “In addition, I would like my nonprofit donations is to establish better benefits for the employees, and they need money to do that. There’s a huge competition for the people that organizations hire and train, and employee benefits are a great way of keeping employees.”

Annie also is hoping to involve her adult son and daughter in the family fund. “I’d like to get my kids involved in choosing organizations that we give to as a family. This fund provides a way to start talking about how to be a conscious, engaged philanthropist. I hope to share ways to choose organizations that use the money responsibly. Through this fund, I want to pass the (philanthropic) baton to the next generation.”