The Malta Community Chest Fund invests in medical research


From its very inception, the University of Malta Research Innovation and Development Trust (RIDT) aimed to catalyse a societal culture change—to see funding for research and innovation receiving broad-based and sustained support, as well as donations from large corporate donors. Indeed, a few productive years later, a silent revolution is gaining momentum as Maltese society embraces this concept.

To underline this shift, there couldn’t have been a more significant donor than the Malta Community Chest Fund (MCCF). The MCCF, under the patronage of the President of the Republic, is considered by many to be the people’s philanthropic saving pot, the national piggy bank for good causes. It raises funds through its relentless campaigning and public generosity. Following in the steps of her predecessors, the current President, H.E. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, has taken this endeavour to new heights with L-Istrina, the yearly telethon fundraiser which hit the €5.5 million mark in 2016.

In December 2014, following an invitation by RIDT’s CEO Wilfred Kenely, The President visited the University of Malta’s research facilities and was shown some of the world-class research projects in areas such as breast cancer, brain-computer interfacing, and kidney disorders. Following that visit, the RIDT engaged with the Office of the President to identify research projects that would be supported by the Malta Community Chest Fund.

The first project to be funded was a study in the genetics of osteoporosis. Dr Melissa Formosa (Faculty of Health Sciences) is leading this project which, having conducted studies on animal models, is looking at Maltese families with members affected with osteoporosis in a bid to to determine whether genetic factors also increase susceptibility to this bone disease.

The President’s commitment has been re-endorsed with the signing of an agreement to finance a three-year National Eye Study to the tune of €132,000. The project investigates the incidence of eye disorders such as glaucoma and cataracts across the Maltese population. To date there is no reliable data available on blindness and common eye diseases. Led by ophthalmic surgeon and visiting senior lecturer Francis Carbonaro (Faculty of Medicine and Surgery), the project will be gathering data from 1% of the Maltese population aged between 40 and 80. The goal is to determine both age and sex-specific prevalence, and the cause of blindness and visual impairment in adults.

In her message to the RIDT, the President of the Republic spoke of her ‘distinct honour and great privilege to offer the full support of the Republic of Malta to the Research Trust. My office is committed to help achieve the aspiration and values we share with the Research Trust to create sustainable economic growth as a means to social development and prosperity.’

The Malta Community Chest Fund has chosen to invest in medical research conducted within the University of Malta. In doing so, it is not only supporting the quest for research-based solutions to our daily challenges, but also sending a clear message to the Maltese community—investment in research pays.


A Good Cause for Research

Mario Cachia

Why should public, private, and non-profit entities invest in research? Several reasons exist.

Firstly, research is key for our future. Research helps drive new knowledge that will improve the world. Society depends on research, across a wide range of disciplines, to strengthen our quality of life and sustain economic stability. By raising funds for University research the RIDT is surely not trying to reinvent the wheel. On the contrary, throughout Europe, the US and Asia public universities are enhancing their Government funding through various initiatives to sustain important research. Universities all across the globe appeal to public entities, private individuals and NGOs to fund research and invest in our society’s future.

Locally, we have just started scraping the surface of fundraising for research. Recently, the RIDT received a number of important donations which shall serve to continue fostering local research. In the first of its kind, we received €55,000 from local NGO ‘Action for Breast Cancer Foundation’ (ABCF), raised through the ALIVE Cycling Challenge. They are being used to launch a Ph.D. studentship in breast cancer research. The Lifecycle Foundation has also donated €70,000 towards kidney disease research. These NGOs have followed a stream of public and private entities, as well as students, who have been donating money for research for the last three years.

Secondly, don’t you want to be part of something bigger? You probably cannot find the cure for cancer yourself, but everyone can contribute to make that a possibility. As the University’s Research Trust, we do not only want to attract big corporate companies or NGOs to donate money, but we also want you — the students, the alumni, the professionals, the workers, the parents, to realise that donating for research is a noble cause. A recent Christmas campaign at the University of Malta that was spearheaded by KSU, the UoM staff and the Chaplaincy managed to raise €12,000 from students, staff, and academics on campus. A third of these funds were donated to the RIDT, which were devolved to the Department of Anatomy. They will be invested in specialised research projects focusing on specific strands of cancer, such as leukaemias, sarcomas, brain tumours, breast and colon cancer.

Research affects our day-to-day lives. Though research discoveries take time and need constant investment to benefit our society, we can come together as a Maltese community by investing in research for good causes. Ultimately, let us imagine a world where we have cured all major diseases, where we can move objects with our thoughts, and unravel the mysteries of the universe.Imagine, and let’s make it happen!


RIDT is the University’s Research Trust aimed towards fostering awareness and fundraising for high-calibre local research. We aim to achieve this by raising funds for various research projects undertaken at the University of Malta. Please visit to donate and our Facebook page on for more information about our latest events and initiatives.


When researchers are at work, they are taking steps that will eventually change our lives. Some steps are very small and will take years to complete, while others are faster and larger. Researchers are part of a global process that will provide solutions to a multitude of challenges. They can resolve our problems to provide energy, safeguard the environment, maintain food supplies, improve healthcare, and sustain efficient transportation. These solutions need innovation and the research that fuels it; this is the only way for societies to survive… let alone thrive! Our future needs hard work and new approaches, ‘doing what we’ve always done’ will not be enough.

The globe’s successful economies all invest huge amounts of money in research; much more than Malta, even if scaled to our economy. Locally, research is particularly relevant since we all know that Malta’s only real resource is the resilience, ingenuity, and diligence of its people.

THINK magazine helps pay tribute to the valuable work of researchers within the University of Malta. Over the centuries, the University has supplied Malta’s intellectual driving force. This institution has produced the graduates who have transformed a small barren archipelago into a civilised developed country within the European mainstream. Apart from a strong academic orientation, the University of Malta is an increasingly important centre for world-class research projects, across a wide range of disciplines. The University also collaborates with other major seats of learning, educational centres and institutes in a number of significant projects. This publication is committed to expose research and its social benefits.

How can you help?

If you share our objectives, please consider what you or your organisation can do to help us to achieve them.Has the University of Malta helped you arrive at where you are today?

You can donate financially through the RIDT website. There you can choose whether your contribution goes to the current priorities of the RIDT, or to a faculty, institute, or centre of your choice.Why not consider leaving a contribution to the RIDT in your will? Talk to us for more details.

Your gift, of whatever size, will play an important part in enabling the University of Malta to increase its research activities and to develop the necessary environment for excellence.

You can donate and get to know more about the RIDT by visiting

For the University of Malta to fulfil its true ‘University of the Future’ role, a much greater emphasis on research and innovation is needed. This will serve as a catalyst for on-going development and progress. For this future to happen, society, and the individuals within it, will need to support the University of Malta’s thrust to prioritise research and innovation. Malta will then achieve a better, more sustainable, and ‘higher value added’ future.

The Research, Innovation and Development Trust (RIDT) has been set up with this specific goal: to engage with all sectors of society in a drive to support research activity. During the past year the RIDT has managed to secure an encouraging number of supporters who have made a donation towards its mission. Private companies, public institutions and individuals have come forward with their donations — large or small — because they believe that for a country to thrive and prosper it needs the backing of a strong University that maintains its role as a higher education institution and as a centre for research and innovation.

479608_54799494Thanking our donors

During 2012 the RIDT received an encouraging number of donations from individuals, companies and public institutions. The University recognises the generosity of donors and would like to publicly thank them. Together with these donors mentioned here, the RIDT received a number of donations from individuals and organisations that preferred to remain anonymous.





The Central Bank of Malta

The donation of the Central Bank of Malta will go towards the establishment of The Central Bank of Malta’s Chair in Economics at the University of Malta. The chair will be instituted within the University’s Faculty of Economics, Management and Accountancy. The agreement will run for five years, starting 1st October 2012.




Malta Freeport Terminals Ltd.

Malta Freeport Terminals Ltd will be supporting the Research, Innovation and Development Trust (RIDT) of the University of Malta, over a five year period starting 1st January 2013. The funds will be received through the University’s Research Trust, and will be administered by RIDT’s Board of Trustees.







Evolve Ltd.

Through the RIDT, Evolve Ltd, a subsidiary of Attard & Co that provides laboratory products and services, donated three instruments to the Chemistry Laboratory of the University of Malta. The instruments include a Gas Chromatograph, a Particle Sizer and a FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrophotometer). The new equipment will enable the Department of Chemistry to increase its research activity while providing better facilities for post-graduate students. 


DSC_8174Music and Research

Two university students, Christine Zerafa and Philip Attard, came up with a brilliant idea earlier this year. They put their musical talents to good use and managed to raise funds that were donated to the RIDT. Christine is finishing her Ph.D. in Chemistry and has recently obtained a Master’s degree in performance music, making her an accomplished concert pianist. Philip is doing a Bachelor’s degree in Music Studies and is fast becoming one of Malta’s leading saxophone players.