Our group is incredibly fortunate to receive support from a variety of governments, institutions, philanthropies, and individuals who care deeply about solving local and global problems. We would be proud to shake the hand of every last one of our donors in front of a camera. Without them, none of our work would be possible.

Because trust depends on perception as much as reality, and our laboratory’s goals require us to earn the trust of communities, we believe our mission can be furthered by making our funding sources transparent. Below, we disclose the complete funding history of our laboratory back to its founding in 2016. The list will be updated as new funding comes in.



Current Research Support


Consortia support for graduate students 1/16/2016-8/31/2020

Junior faculty receive support for graduate students. One slot was used from 1/16/16 to 8/31/2016, three slots from 9/1/2017 to 8/31/2018, and five slots per year thereafter. Includes $5,000 for reagents and supplies per student.


NEC Career Development Chair         7/1/2016-6/30/2020

NEC Chair at MIT Media Lab                         $80,000 ($20,000 per year)


IRSA 1016432 (Esvelt)                 9/1/2016-8/31/2021

Burroughs Wellcome Foundation                  $500,000

A model system to evaluate the dynamics and safety of gene drive applications

The project seeks to develop nematode worms as novel system to study the evolutionary dynamics of gene drive systems in order to provide regulators and the interested public with a way to predict the behavior of gene drive systems before release.

Role: PI


DP2 New Innovator                 9/1/2017-6/30/2022

NIH Common Fund (NIAID administered) $1,500,000 direct

Developing daisy drive systems for the precise alteration of local populations

The project aims to develop daisy-chain, daisy-quorum, and daisyfield drive systems in worms & mice.

Role: PI


W81XWH-17-1-0669                 9/30/2017-9/29/2020

CDMRP                         $250,000 direct

Heritably immunizing white-footed mice to prevent tick-borne disease

This project aims to identify antibodies protecting P. leucopus, the major reservoir of tick-borne disease, from the Lyme pathogen B. burgdorferi and from tick bites, and to encode antibodies in the germline to generate cisgenic mice with heritable resistance.

Role: PI


Gift                         2017

(anonymous*)                 $117,500

*Lewis Bollard at the Open Philanthropy Project believed that this donor would be interested in our proposal to engineer inducible pain-free mice to reduce suffering during medical research. They generously elected to send an unrestricted gift to support our research, which we have used to fund that specific project. The donor’s identity is unknown to us. 


FG-2018-10404                         9/15/2018-9/14/2020

Sloan Faculty Research Fellowship $70,000

The Sloan Research Fellowship will support research in the Esvelt laboratory.

Role: PI


Gift                                 2019

Open Philanthropy Project - SVCF fund $500,000

This gift falls within their work on global catastrophic risks.


Gift                                                         2019

Reid Hoffman Foundation                 $500,000



Completed Research Support


Startup package: MIT

One technician and one postdoctoral fellow for one year. $525,000 for equipment. $250,000 for research supplies. A commitment to consortia funding while a junior faculty member (see ongoing support).


R00 DK102669-01                 5/01/16-4/30/18

NIH/NIDDK                 $750,000 direct (some returned to NIH)

Sculpting the Enteric Microbiota with CRISPR/Cas Systems

The project aimed to develop phage-based methods of altering the composition of the gut microbiota. Some funds were returned before the project ended due to a change in our lab’s research direction away from the microbiota towards eukaryotes; we felt that we could not in good conscience continue to use the funds for such a markedly different purpose.

Role: PI


SPAWAR N66001-17-2-4054                 8/31/17-8/31/19

DARPA Safe Genes                 $1,894,384 to MIT* (includes overhead)

The project aimed to develop and model efficient daisy drive systems and genetic technologies relevant to controllable population editing. 

Role: PI

* Some funds went to collaborators at MIT.


Gift through MIT                 9/1/17-8/31/19

“Elements”*                         $650,000

*The donor supporting the Elements project has gifted funds to MIT in support of research that works with local and especially indigenous communities to solve environmental problems. As several of our projects seek to accomplish these goals, we were internally awarded a share of the funds. The donor’s identity is not public to minimize perceived funding pressure, but is well known within MIT, having been vetted by more than the minimal process. Multiple members of our group have learned of the donor’s identity and approve of the donation.