HHMI opened an international competition in December aimed at helping up to 35 early career scientists establish independent research programs. Scientists trained in the United States who are now running a lab in any eligible country may apply.
"Science is an international endeavor," says HHMI President Robert Tjian, "and HHMI wants to help develop the next generation of scientific talent worldwide."
HHMI has committed $24 million for the International Early Career Scientist Program. Each selected scientist will receive $650,000 over five years, with eligibility for a five-year extension of the grant. The competition is open to scientists who have trained in the United States at the graduate, medical, or postdoctoral level; have run their own labs for fewer than seven years; and work on biomedical research in a university or nonprofit research institution in one of 18 eligible countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, Hungary, India, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, and Turkey.
The program will complement HHMI's 2008 initiative supporting 50 early career scientists in the United States. Early career support can be even more important internationally, because many scientists working outside the United States do not receive the large startup packages available at many U.S. universities. If the program is successful, it could form the basis for a larger international endeavor.
"HHMI's investigators are deeply involved in the international research community, and we want to make sure that community is as robust as possible," says HHMI vice president and chief scientific officer Jack E. Dixon. Since 1991, HHMI has spent more than $145 million to fund international scientists working in specific geographic areas, including Canada, Latin America, and Eastern Europe, or in a specific field of research, such as parasitology or infectious disease.
In a June survey of HHMI investigators and early career scientists, 73 percent of those who responded reported international collaborations and 62 percent said they have international postdoctoral students in their laboratories.