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HHMI Awards $6.5 Million to International Biomedical Researchers

Summary

HHMI selects 13 of the world’s leading basic science researchers to receive Senior International Research Scholar (SIRS) awards. The awards support outstanding biomedical scientists working outside the United States who have made significant contributions to fundamental research in the biological sciences.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) announced today that it has selected 13 of the world’s leading basic science researchers to receive Senior International Research Scholar (SIRS) awards. The awards support outstanding biomedical scientists working outside the United States who have made significant contributions to fundamental research in the biological sciences.

Scientific research is a global endeavor, and these grants will provide an opportunity for these highly creative and accomplished scientists to explore new avenues of biomedical research, and to mentor promising early career scientists across the world.

Robert Tjian

“Scientific research is a global endeavor, and these grants will provide an opportunity for these highly creative and accomplished scientists to explore new avenues of biomedical research, and to mentor promising early career scientists across the world,” said HHMI President Robert Tjian.

HHMI's International Program complements the Institute's programs for investigators in the United States by supporting outstanding scientists working in countries where HHMI support can significantly further innovative basic biomedical research. SIRS is the newest program to join HHMI’s long-standing effort to support the research of international scientists. HHMI began supporting international scientists in 1991 with the launch of the International Research Scholars Program. In 2012, HHMI unveiled a new initiative, the International Early Career Scientist Program, which provides funding for a select group of scientists who are in the early stages of their careers and working outside the United States.

The new SIRS awardees, selected from a group of previous HHMI international research scholars, are respected leaders in their fields. Their experience will make them valuable mentors to HHMI’s international early career scientists, and will strengthen the growing network of international biomedical researchers.

Each HHMI senior international research scholar will receive a grant of $100,000 per year over five years, and will present their research at scientific meetings held at HHMI. The gatherings are intended to facilitate the exchange of ideas, stimulate new research, and provide an opportunity for collaboration with other HHMI scientists.

“These senior international research scholars are world leaders in their research areas. They will complement our efforts to support international early career scientists in a positive way,” said Jack E. Dixon, HHMI’s vice president and chief scientific officer. “We plan to integrate them into the HHMI family, having them attend our scientific meetings and interact with other HHMI scientists whose labs are located in the U.S.”

The new SIRS awardees are based in Canada, Latin America, Europe, South Africa, and Australia. They are studying a variety of topics, including genetic interaction networks, the immune response, infectious and parasitic diseases, RNA splicing, stem cells, neurogenesis, and protein assembly.

2012 HHMI Senior International Research Scholars:

Charles BooneCharles Boone, PhD
University of Toronto
Toronto, Canada

Boone plans to complete the first genetic interaction network for a cell and decipher the general principles that govern these networks.

Pascale CossartPascale F. Cossart, PhD
Pasteur Institute
Paris, France

Cossart’s goal is to elucidate the bacterial and host cell factors that are essential for the establishment of infection, and to define the mechanisms in which they are involved.

Alan CowmanAlan F. Cowman, PhD
The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
Melbourne, Australia

Cowman is investigating how Plasmodium falciparum, which causes the most lethal form of human malaria, invades mature red blood cells, and how it develops so that it can grow and hide from the host's protective responses.

Luis R. Herrera-Estrella, PhDLuis R. Herrera-Estrella, PhD
National Polytechnic Institute
Irapuato, Mexico

Herrera-Estrella's laboratory aims to understand how plants modify the architecture of their roots to improve their ability to obtain nutrients from the soil, and apply this knowledge to generate new plant varieties with improved nutrient uptake and use efficiency

Alberto R. Kornblihtt, PhDAlberto R. Kornblihtt, PhD
University of Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Kornblihtt's research focuses on the regulation of alternative pre-mRNA splicing, with particular emphasis on the mechanisms that couple the splicing and transcription machineries.

Freda Miller, PhDFreda Miller, PhD
University of Toronto
Toronto, Canada

Miller is interested in the development and establishment of neural connectivity and in understanding how this is perturbed in pathological situations. She also studies the role stem cells play in the biology of developing and adult tissues, with a particular focus on the central nervous system and the dermis.

Valerie Mizrahi, PhDValerie Mizrahi, PhD
University of Cape Town
Rondebosch, South Africa

Mizrahi is studying mechanisms of cofactor, DNA, and nucleotide metabolism in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the organism that causes human tuberculosis. Her laboratory aims to contribute to the discovery of new drugs for TB by understanding mechanisms of metabolic flexibility and identifying metabolic vulnerabilities in this formidable human pathogen.

Isabel Roditi, PhD Isabel Roditi, PhD
University of Bern
Bern, Switzerland

Roditi studies how Trypanosoma brucei, the parasite that causes human sleeping sickness, regulates gene expression as it progresses through its life cycle.

Philippe J. Sansonetti, MDPhilippe J. Sansonetti, MD
Pasteur Institute
Paris, France

Sansonetti studies the molecular mechanisms of gut homeostasis and pathology in the presence of bacteria, and the molecular and cellular bases of the bacteria’s rupture, invasion, inflammatory destruction, and immune subversion of the intestinal mucosa.

Alejandro F. Schinder, PhDAlejandro F. Schinder, PhD
Leloir Institute Foundation
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Schinder plans to examine how new neurons participate in information processing in the adult brain and, ultimately, how they contribute to behavior. He recently demonstrated that nerve cells generated in the adult brain bear unique functional properties that make them different from all other neurons in the circuit.

Dominique Soldati-Favre, PhDDominique Soldati-Favre, PhD
University of Geneva
Geneva, Switzerland

Soldati-Favre is investigating the mechanisms that enable obligate intracellular apicomplexan parasites—a family of parasitic protozoa responsible for severe diseases in humans and animals—to establish infection without stimulating host cell defense mechanisms.

Nahum Sonenberg, PhDNahum Sonenberg, PhD
McGill University
Montreal, Canada

Sonenberg is conducting research on the mechanism and control of translation initiation in eukaryotes in health and disease. He is investigating the role that translational control plays in development, learning and memory and microRNA function, and the dysregulation of translation in cancer, autism, neurodegenerative disease and viral infections.

Natalie C. Strynadka, PhDNatalie C. Strynadka, PhD
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, Canada

Strynadka employs a multidisciplinary structural biology approach to study the molecular details and function of membrane protein assemblies that play key roles in antibiotic resistance and bacterial pathogenicity. Her goal is to use this information to guide design of novel antibiotics and vaccines to treat bacterial infections.

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Robert Gutnikoff
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