Venture philanthropy presents a new model of research funding that is particularly helpful to those fighting orphan diseases, which actively manages the commercialization process to accelerate scientific progress and material outcomes. This paper begins by documenting the growing importance of foundations as a source of funding academic research as traditional funding from industry and government sources decline. Foundations are known for their innovative techniques and we consider the evolution of the ways that foundations fund academic research and form partnerships across academia and industry. We examine the example of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the development of the drug Kalydeco® as a demonstration of the principals of strategic foundation funding. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation adapted to a venture philanthropy model and took an active role in drug development, stewarding the commercialization process from funding basic scientific work in academic institutions, to making an equity investment in a start-up firm. We conclude by evaluating the advantages and disadvantages to venture philanthropy for the academic researchers, industry partners, foundations, and universities and consider an agenda for future research.