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HHMI Announces New Open Competition for HHMI Investigators

Summary

HHMI will hold a national competition for investigators and plans to name as many as 50 new researchers by spring 2008.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) will hold a national competition for investigators and plans to name as many as 50 new researchers by spring 2008. The initiative represents an investment of at least $600 million in basic biomedical research by the Institute.

HHMI seeks applications from outstanding scientists studying biomedical problems in a broad array of disciplines, including not only biology and medicine, but related areas of chemistry, physics, engineering and computational biology. This competition is open to early career stage scientists at approximately 200 eligible institutions.

We see this as an opportunity to strengthen our community of researchers by adding investigators at an early career stage.

Thomas R. Cech

“We see this as an opportunity to strengthen our community of researchers by adding investigators at an early career stage,” said HHMI President Thomas R. Cech. “This infusion of fresh scientific talent—and potentially new fields of inquiry unrepresented among our investigators—offers HHMI an extraordinary opportunity to refresh our commitment to original and creative biomedical research.”

HHMI values innovation and encourages its investigators to extend the boundaries of science. By appointing scientists as Hughes investigators—rather than awarding research grants—HHMI is guided by the principle of “people, not projects.” HHMI investigators have the freedom to explore and, if necessary, to change direction in their research. Moreover, they have support to follow their ideas through to fruition—even if that process takes many years.

A Video Introduction to HHMI: Learn more about the Institute, its scientists, and what it means to be part of the mission.

“We are looking for scientists who have demonstrated originality and productivity in biomedical research and who show exceptional promise for future contributions,” said Jack E. Dixon, vice president and chief scientific officer.

Candidates are being asked to apply directly to HHMI, an approach that HHMI used for the first time in November 2006 for a smaller, more focused competition for physician scientists. This new competition represents the first time that HHMI has opened up a general competition to the direct application process. In the past, faculty members had to be nominated by their institutions for HHMI investigator positions.

Successful candidates are expected to meet the following criteria:

  • Hold a Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent degree.
  • Hold a tenured or tenure-track position (or the equivalent) as Assistant Professor or higher academic rank at one of the approximately 200 eligible host institutions.
  • Have at least 4 but no more than 10 years of experience since their initial appointment as an Assistant Professor (or equivalent).
  • Be the principal investigator on one (or more) active, national, peer-reviewed research grants of at least three years duration, such as an NIH R01 award.

Applications must be filed by June 13. Candidates will be evaluated by panels of distinguished biomedical researchers with final selections expected to be made by spring 2008.

Detailed information about the competition—including the list of eligible institutions and access to the secure application site—may be found at the HHMI website at www.hhmi.org/research/competitions/investigator2008

HHMI enters into long-term collaboration agreements with universities and other academic research organizations, where its investigators hold faculty appointments. Under these agreements, HHMI investigators, who are directly employed by the Institute, and their research teams carry out their research in HHMI laboratories located on various campuses. Through its flagship investigator program, HHMI has joined with more than 60 distinguished U.S. universities, hospitals, institutes, and medical schools to create an environment that provides flexible, long-term support for approximately 300 Hughes scientists and members of their research teams. HHMI investigators are widely recognized for their creativity and productivity: 115 HHMI investigators are members of the National Academy of Sciences and there are currently 11 Nobel laureates within the investigator community.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a non-profit medical research organization that ranks as one of the nation's largest philanthropies, plays a powerful role in advancing biomedical research and science education in the United States. In the past two decades HHMI has made investments of more than $8.3 billion for the support, training, and education of the nation's most creative and promising scientists.

HHMI's principal mission is conducting basic biomedical research, which it carries out in collaboration with more than 60 universities, medical centers and other research institutions throughout the United States. Approximately 300 HHMI investigators, along with a scientific staff of more than 2,000, work at these institutions in Hughes laboratories. In a complementary program at HHMI's Janelia Farm Research Campus in Loudoun County, Virginia, leading scientists are pursuing long-term, high-risk, high-reward research in a campus specially designed to bring together researchers from disparate disciplines. The Institute's biomedical research expenditures at the close of fiscal year 2006 totaled $538 million.

The Institute also has a philanthropic grants program that emphasizes initiatives with the power to transform graduate and undergraduate education in the life sciences. Additionally, it supports the work of biomedical researchers in many countries around the globe. Through aggregate investments of more that $1.2 billion, the Institute has sought to reinvigorate life science education at both research universities and liberal arts colleges and to engage the nation's leading scientists in teaching. HHMI grants totaled $87 million at the close of fiscal year 2006.

HHMI has an endowment of approximately $16 billion. Its headquarters are located in Chevy Chase, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C.

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Jim Keeley
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