HHMI: Catalyst for Discovery

Our HHMI community cultivates an ethos of excellence. We think in generations – and we want the next generation of science to be more vibrant and inclusive than today. We see potential for significant changes in academic culture, from science education to the research environment. We’re committed to experimenting with new approaches to achieve progress and sharing what we learn along the way.

We believe HHMI has unique opportunity to respond meaningfully to today’s challenges – in the scientific community, in classrooms, and in the public arena.

To ensure that we use HHMI’s resources for maximum impact, we’ve established four core priorities to guide our decisions over the next five to ten years:

Discovery Science

Significant new knowledge cannot be supplied on demand – it unfolds over time, through exploration, experimentation, and rigorous debate.

HHMI catalyzes discovery in basic biomedical research, generating knowledge about the structure and function of living systems at the level of molecules, cells, behaviors, and interactions, with potential to benefit humanity. We place big bets on curious and ambitious researchers, supporting them with generous and flexible funding for significant periods of time, subject to rigorous periodic scientific review.

As one measure of success, to date, 28 current or former HHMI scientists have been awarded a Nobel Prize. We take our responsibility as a major supporter of discovery science seriously and look to make maximum impact, particularly at a time in which many funders are shifting toward more applied research. Read more >

Diversity and Inclusion in the Scientific Workforce

HHMI’s research labs, like many others, do not reflect the demographic diversity of the U.S. population.  As a result, we miss talent that we otherwise might have in science. That’s a problem – not only socially, but also scientifically. We want to find the best solutions to difficult problems. To do that, we need the varying perspectives of people who come from different races, ethnicities, genders, training backgrounds, and more. Read more >

Public Engagement

The sustained excellence of our nation’s science, and its proper role in society, depends upon a public that understands the importance of science – its process, as well as its payoffs. To value science, the public needs good and compelling information.

HHMI has established a leading position in public engagement as an organization with both a deep understanding of biological science and education and professional media production capabilities. HHMI has the potential for significant positive impact on a national scale. Two elements essential to making that impact are powerful partners and powerful content. Read more >

Healthy Academic Ecosystem

Federal and state funding for higher education has tightened considerably in recent years, creating a hyper-competitive academic research environment. Researchers confront pressure to constantly pursue multiple grant opportunities, demonstrate research impact by publishing in a handful of highly selective journals, and protect their data, rather than share information for the betterment of science. At the same time, they are not rewarded for taking time to teach, mentor, and serve the scientific community.

These trends contribute to a systemically unhealthy academic environment, impeding the exploratory nature of discovery science and threatening the quality of U.S. biomedical research. We believe HHMI has an opportunity to collaborate with other scientific leaders to address these issues in concrete ways. Read more >

Our Janelia Research Campus has announced several strategic changes.