French entrepreneur and industrialist Jean Leducq, together with his wife Sylviane, created the Leducq Foundation in Paris, France in 1996. The source of support for the new foundation was the proceeds from the sale of the family’s international linen and uniform services businesses in Europe and in North America, which took place the following year. Having strong ties in both Europe and in North America, the Leducqs decided to orient the foundation to support internationally collaborative research in cardiovascular disease and stroke, initially targeting the grant program to investigators from the two continents where they had lived and worked. A Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), composed equally of 7 North American and 7 European members who are experts in cardiovascular and stroke, was assembled to develop the grant-making program.
Under the SAC’s guidance, the foundation awarded its first grants in cardiovascular research in 1999 under an individual investigator program. In 2003, at the recommendation of the SAC, the Leducq Foundation introduced the 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 pool their efforts and resources to focus on a single, important topic. 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 2020, the Leducq Foundation has supported 70 international networks working on research projects in heart disease and stroke, representing more than 800 investigators at over 130 institutions in 25 countries. The Leducq program has now expanded from its initial focus on North America and Europe to include investigators worldwide.
In 2008, the Leducq trust created Broadview Ventures, Inc., a venture philanthropic program dedicated to accelerating innovation in the area of cardiovascular and stroke through direct investment to support early-stage technology. Based in Boston, Massachusetts, Broadview Ventures was designed to help overcome two problems in the development of technology for cardiovascular disease and stroke. The first is 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. The second is the relative paucity of investment in early stage technology cardiovascular disease and stroke, especially considered with respect to the global burden of disease associated with them. Although nominally operating as a for-profit company, Broadview is mission, not profit, driven. Since the sole shareholder of Broadview is the Leducq trust, any return on Broadview investments is used either for additional Broadview investment, or to provide further funding for the Leducq Foundation.
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. In 2009, in recognition of her generosity and leadership, she was awarded the French Legion of Honor. Upon her death in 2013, the oversight of the Leducq Foundation and Broadview Ventures programs remain the responsibility of the Leducq trust. This trust, based in the Bahamas, is dedicated to pursuing the mission in cardiovascular disease and stroke research, consistent with the values and vision of its founders.