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You will be able to read more about the results of our competition for investigators engaged in patient-oriented research in the February 2008 issue of the HHMI Bulletin. Many of those who participated in the deliberations found the process electrifying. Why? To use lingo borrowed from the world of diplomacy, our 39 reviewers—brought to the Janelia Farm Research Campus for a two-day meeting—engaged in a full and frank discussion about what constitutes true patient-oriented research and the scientific merits of each candidate. The discussions focused on 40 finalists, selected from 242 applications through previous rounds of review. Fifteen will be named HHMI investigators.
We meet individually with each of our investigators at the five-year mark for a highly focused discussion about their work to determine whether their HHMI appointment will be renewed. We ask that HHMI investigators demonstrate—at a superlative level—one or more of the following attributes: that they identify and pursue significant biological questions in a deep and rigorous manner, push their chosen field in new directions, develop new tools and methods that enable creative experimental approaches to biological research, forge links between basic biology and medicine, and demonstrate great promise of innovative and original contributions.
The assessments are challenging all around and, once again, our reviewers play a vital role. Investigators submit materials in advance but also make a 35-minute presentation and have an opportunity to answer questions about their work. One size doesn't fit all, and our reviewers take a broad view of the variety of styles and approaches that contribute to scientific discovery.
We delight in giving our investigators the spotlight at HHMI. But that acclaim needs to be shared with those other scientists who, through their insight and judicious advice, help guide our choices.