Even HHMI’s annual report will be presented in a fresh light. This year, for the first time, we are publishing the full report online. This approach saves paper (good) and makes the most of technology to present information about the Institute in greater depth (even better).
During more than 20 years as a Hughes investigator at the University of California, Berkeley, I have had a front-row seat that has enabled me to watch the Institute’s leadership in action. I saw the great successes achieved by Purnell W. Choppin, who served as HHMI’s president for 13 years, in the development of our scientific and educational programs. Indeed, my own work as a scientist benefited directly from this expansive period in HHMI’s history. Later, I observed the beautiful changes made by Thomas R. Cech, who became president in 2000, as he refined the Institute’s research activities and brought new vigor to our support for science education.
Our capacity to achieve is still so great that we must place the emphasis where it belongs: What must we do? What imperatives demand a different lens, a new way of thinking?Robert Tjian
Since becoming HHMI’s president in April, I can tell you that the change in perspective—from a ground-floor lab at Berkeley to a second-floor aerie overlooking the Institute’s spacious campus—is both thrilling and humbling. Each has a terrific view. But now, in collaboration with a talented staff and the guidance of the Institute’s Trustees, I have the opportunity to see this extraordinary organization in every dimension and all its complexity. Thankfully, there’s room for me to make a contribution, particularly with regard to our international presence. I have always viewed HHMI as a global enterprise and, with the help of the scientific staff and our advisors, we will consider new programs and focus on the development of the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV in South Africa.
We do so in the face of challenging times. Although our investments performed well on a relative basis, the economic downturn means that Hughes has less money to support programmatic activities. As a matter of prudence, we have reduced spending in all areas and made operational changes; the future may require further adjustments. Yet our capacity to achieve is still so great that we must place the emphasis where it belongs: What must we do? What imperatives demand a different lens, a new way of thinking? These are the questions—and the opportunities—that will propel HHMI in new directions.
Robert Tjian, Ph.D.