French entrepreneur and industrialist Jean Leducq, together with his wife Sylviane, created the Fondation Leducq in Paris, France in 1996. The following year they would sell the family’s international linen and uniform services businesses, in Europe and in North America, and direct the proceeds towards the support of this new foundation. Having strong ties in both Europe and in North America, the Leducqs decided to position the foundation to support internationally collaborative research in cardiovascular disease and stroke, targeting investigators initially from the two continents where they had lived and worked.
The foundation awarded its first grants in cardiovascular research in 1999 under an individual investigator program. A Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), composed equally of 7 North American and 7 European members who are experts in cardiovascular and stroke, helped to develop the program, and select the awardees.
In 2003, at the recommendation of the SAC, the Fondation Leducq introduced the Transatlantic Networks of Excellence, a program designed to promote collaborative research among investigators in North America and Europe working in the areas of cardiovascular and stroke. Under this program, researchers from around the world can pool together their efforts and resources to focus on a single, important problem. The principal aims of the Leducq network program are to develop international research networks that advance science of cardiovascular disease and stroke; apply the knowledge gained; promote the development of technology and therapeutics to improve human health; allow researchers to benefit from the added-value of collaborative work at the international level; and support early career investigators.
As of 2019, the Fondation Leducq has supported 61 international networks working on research projects in heart disease and stroke, representing more than 500 investigators at over 130 institutions in 22 countries. The Leducq program has now expanded from its initial focus on North America and Europe to include investigators worldwide.
In 2008, under the guidance of Sylviane Leducq, the foundation’s trust created Broadview Ventures, Inc., a new venture philanthropic program dedicated to accelerating innovation in the area of cardiovascular and stroke through direct investment in early-stage companies. Based in Boston, Massachusetts, Broadview Ventures was designed to help overcome the “translational funding gap” faced by early-stage companies that are too far advanced for traditional academic funding, but not sufficiently developed to attract conventional venture capital investment. Although nominally operating as a for-profit company, Broadview is mission, not profit, driven. The sole shareholder of Broadview is the Leducq Trust, so any investment return from Broadview investment is used either for additional Broadview investment, or to provide further funding for the Transatlantic Center of Excellence program.
After Jean Leducq passed away in 2002, Sylviane took over as President of the Board of Directors, overseeing the development of the Transatlantic Networks Program, and the creation of the Broadview Ventures. She worked to assure that the foundation would have the financial stability to continue its activities in cardiovascular and neurovascular research for generations to come. In 2009, in recognition of her generosity and leadership, she was awarded the French Legion of Honor.
At the death of Sylviane Leducq in 2013, the oversight of the Fondation Leducq and Broadview Ventures programs remain the responsibility of the foundation’s trust. This trust, based in the Bahamas, has as its mission to ensure that the activities of the Leducq organization continue to align with the values and vision of its founders.