Who We Are

Founded in 1914, China Medical Board is an independent American foundation. CMB’s mission is to advance health, equity, and the quality of care in China and Southeast Asia. Working in a spirit of partnership at the forefront of strategic philanthropy, CMB strives to build capacity in an interdependent world that fosters innovation in professional education, policy research, and global health.

CMB was started in 1914 as the second major program of the Rockefeller Foundation, and it was endowed in 1928 as an independent foundation incorporated in New York. Its initial commitment was to establish and operate the Peking Union Medical College in Beijing, which it carried out from 1914 through 1950. After withdrawal from the mainland of China in early 1951, the CMB extended its capacity building work to other Asian countries. Following its return to the mainland of China in 1980, CMB has expanded support in medical education and research to more than a dozen medical universities in China, while continuing to make capacity-building grants in Southeast Asia.

In 2008 CMB launched a fresh initiative to strengthen scientific excellence in “critical capacities” among Chinese and Asian institutions to address the premier health challenges of the 21st century—equitable access to primary and preventive health services in market-driven economies so that all can benefit from the advancement of knowledge. This work emphasizes capacity strengthening in the fields of health policy and health systems and associated educational activities to advance health equity.

CMB celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2014. To mark the historic occasion, CMB’s Board of Trustees sharpened CMB’s mission and strategies for its second century. In 2016, CMB changed from a grantmaking foundation to a direct operating foundation, placing it in a stronger position to work with Chinese and American partners to initiate, develop, and manage collaborative programs. While CMB continues its grantmaking in China and Southeast Asia, it recognizes the growing importance for its academic, professional, and collaborative contributions to programs that strengthen medical, nursing, public health, and global health research and education, as well as leadership development.

In Southeast Asia, CMB has embarked on an ambitious program to develop 500 leaders for health equity over the next two decades. The Equity Initiative, launched in January 2016 in partnership with The Atlantic Philanthropies, selects midcareer professionals from across the ASEAN countries for leadership development, exposure to equity concepts and practices, and community building. As of March 2023, the Equity Initiative has engaged seven cohorts, totaling 157 Fellows from 12 countries.

Over more than a century of philanthropy, CMB has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in grants and technical support to medical universities and other health-affiliated institutions in Asia. CMB is headquartered in the United States with field staff based at offices in Beijing and Bangkok. Led by its president, CMB has more than a dozen staff, the majority of whom are based in Asia. Its Board of Trustees governs CMB organizational policies.