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HHMI Taps 43 of the Nation's Most Promising Scientists

Summary

HHMI has selected 43 of the nations most promising biomedical scientists as new HHMI investigators. The 32 men and 11 women are drawn from 31 institutions nationwide, representing traditional biomedical research disciplines, as well as engineering, physics, chemistry, and computer science.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute today announced the selection of 43 of the nation’s most promising biomedical scientists as new HHMI investigators.

“We are committed to providing these scientists—and the nearly 300 scientists who are already part of HHMI—with the freedom and flexibility they need in order to make lasting contributions to mankind,” said Thomas R. Cech, HHMI’s president. “We want and expect them to be daring.”

HHMI chose the 43 scientists through a nationwide competition that began in 2004 when the Institute asked approximately 200 universities, medical schools, and institutes to nominate candidates who demonstrated exceptional promise within 4 to 10 years of their becoming independent scientists. More than 300 individuals were nominated.

“These scientists are on the rapidly rising slope of their careers and have made surprising discoveries in a short period of time,” said Cech. “We have every reason to believe that they will use their creativity to extend the boundaries of scientific knowledge for many years to come.”

The 32 men and 11 women are drawn from 31 institutions nationwide, representing traditional biomedical research disciplines, as well as engineering, physics, chemistry, and computer science. Three host institutions—Colorado State University in Fort Collins; Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, Missouri; and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—are joining the HHMI program for the first time.

The subjects of interest to these scientists encompass the cellular and molecular components of neural circuits; infectious diseases and the agents that cause them; blood vessel formation; the activity of single molecules and the implications for human disease; and the role of prehistoric bacteria in shaping the environment.

David A. Clayton, vice president and chief scientific officer of the Institute, said the new competition allows HHMI to respond to new areas of scientific interest and emerging fields.

“The scientists we identified through this competition are impossible to pigeonhole into traditional categories—and that is good news for HHMI and for the future of research in the life sciences,” said Clayton. “By my estimation, about 20 percent of them are drawn from the physical sciences, including chemistry and physics. And while nearly a quarter of these researchers are in the burgeoning field of neuroscience, it’s fair to say that we expect the impact of their work to be felt across the full spectrum of biological research.”

Cech said the selection of the new investigators means that HHMI will invest more than $300 million in additional support for biomedical research over the next seven years. The Institute’s current annual research budget is $416 million.

Through its flagship investigator program, HHMI currently employs 298 of the nation’s most innovative scientists, who lead Hughes laboratories at 64 institutions. These scientists are widely recognized for their creativity and productivity: more than 100 are members of the National Academy of Sciences and 10 have been honored with the Nobel Prize. Pioneering work recognized by the Nobel has shed light on the organization of the olfactory system; the structure and function of cellular channels critical to the heart and other muscles; the identification of genes regulating organ development and programmed cell death; and processes fundamental to learning and memory.

The 43 men and women selected must now be formally appointed, a process that will take up to six months. The general competition for new investigators, the first since 2000, represents a continued expansion of the Institute’s biomedical research mission. HHMI is also about to conclude the first phase of recruitment of scientists for the Janelia Farm Research Campus, the innovative technology campus scheduled to open in Northern Virginia in 2006.

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The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is dedicated to discovering and disseminating new knowledge in the basic life sciences. HHMI grounds its research programs on the conviction that scientists of exceptional talent and imagination will make fundamental contributions of lasting scientific value and benefit to mankind when given the resources, time, and freedom to pursue challenging questions. The Institute prizes intellectual daring and seeks to preserve the autonomy of its scientists as they pursue their research.

A nonprofit medical research organization, HHMI was established in 1953 by the aviator-industrialist. The Institute, headquartered in Chevy Chase, Maryland, is one of the largest philanthropies in the world with an endowment of $12.8 billion at the close of its 2004 fiscal year. HHMI spent $573 million in support of biomedical research and $80 million for support of a variety of science education and other grants programs in fiscal 2004.

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Scientists Selected in the 2005 HHMI Investigator Competition

  • Susan L. Ackerman
    The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine
  • James Bardwell
    University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • David P. Bartel
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Bonnie L. Bassler
    Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey
  • Albert Bendelac
    The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
  • Ronald R. Breaker
    Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
  • Andrew Camilli
    Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Edwin R. Chapman
    University of Wisconsin–Madison, Madison, Wisconsin
  • Zhijian Chen
    University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, Texas
  • Joseph DeRisi
    University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California
  • Sascha du Lac
    The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California
  • Michael D. Ehlers
    Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina
  • Evan E. Eichler
    University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
  • K. Christopher Garcia
    Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California
  • Taekjip Ha
    University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois
  • Gregory J. Hannon
    Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York
  • Oliver Hobert
    Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York
  • Linda C. Hsieh-Wilson
    California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California
  • Steven E. Jacobsen
    University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California
  • Erik M. Jorgensen
    University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Dorothee Kern
    Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts
  • Alex Kolodkin
    The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
  • David R. Liu
    Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Scott W. Lowe
    Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, New York
  • Karolin Luger
    Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Liqun Luo
    Stanford University, Palo Alto, California
  • Milan Mrksich
    The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
  • Dianne K. Newman
    California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California
  • Teresa Nicolson
    Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon
  • Joseph P. Noel
    The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California200
  • Olivier Pourquié
    Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Kansas City, Missouri
  • Stephen R. Quake
    Stanford University, Palo Alto, California
  • Shahin Rafii
    Cornell University Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College, New York, New York
  • Fred Rieke
    University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
  • Michael K. Rosen
    University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, Texas
  • Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado
    University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Brenda A. Schulman
    St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Geraldine Seydoux
    The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Kevan Shokat
    University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California
  • Thomas Tuschl
    The Rockefeller University, New York, New York
  • Rafael Yuste
    Columbia University, New York, New York
  • Yi Zhang
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Xiaowei Zhuang
    Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

For More Information

Jim Keeley
[ 301-215-8858 ]