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Wellcome Trust-HHMI Exchange Program Will Enhance International Collaboration

Summary

HHMI and the Wellcome Trust have joined forces to establish an exchange program designed to promote collaborative science and enhance research opportunities for postdoctoral researchers.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and the Wellcome Trust have joined forces to establish an exchange program that will enable postdoctoral researchers in HHMI and Wellcome Trust laboratories to spend up to a year working in an overseas lab. The program is designed to promote collaborative science and enhance research opportunities for postdoctoral researchers.

“Today's science is conducted on an international platform, and this is one way we can help foster international collaborations,” said Jack E. Dixon, vice president and chief scientific officer at HHMI. “What's terrific about this program is that two philanthropic organizations that are already contributing in positive ways to training young people in science are working together to further broaden opportunities for young scientists.”

HHMI and the Wellcome Trust are two of the world's largest philanthropies, and share a commitment to fostering innovative biomedical research. HHMI employs hundreds of leading biomedical scientists in laboratories across the United States, and through its grants program also supports international research. The Wellcome Trust, the largest charity in the United Kingdom, funds around 3,000 scientists in over 40 countries, with an annual spending of $1 billion.

"This novel scheme will be a tremendous benefit to members of the research teams who work with some of the world's leading scientists,” said Pat Goodwin, Head of Immunology and Infectious Diseases Funding at the Wellcome Trust. “The knowledge and experience that they will gain through the exchange program will be invaluable to them, and will help forge links between international research groups."

Through the HHMI-Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Exchange Program, postdoctoral researchers working in HHMI laboratories - which include laboratories at HHMI's Janelia Farm Research Campus in Virginia, as well as those of HHMI investigators at 64 host institutions throughout the United States - can travel to the United Kingdom to work in one of a number of Wellcome Trust laboratories for up to one year. These researchers need not be employed by HHMI to be eligible for the program. Likewise, postdoctoral researchers in these Wellcome Trust laboratories - which include some leading laboratories throughout the United Kingdom run by Wellcome Trust researchers, as well as those at the Wellcome Trust's Sanger Institute near Cambridge - can travel to the United States to work in an HHMI lab for up to one year.

Participation in the exchange program will be initiated by senior HHMI and Wellcome Trust scientists who wish to begin or continue a collaboration between their laboratories. HHMI and the Wellcome Trust will each provide travel and living expenses to postdoctoral researchers in their own laboratories who participate in the program. Participants will also receive assistance obtaining the necessary visas and work authorization.

“By easing the barriers that face postdoctoral researchers who wish to spend time working in a foreign laboratory, we expect this exchange program to enhance the scientific collaborations that already exist between HHMI and Wellcome Trust laboratories, and to create opportunities for new ones to develop,” said Carl D. Rhodes, an HHMI scientific officer.

HHMI is one of the world's largest philanthropies, with laboratories across the United States and grants programs throughout the world. The Institute is a nonprofit medical research organization that employs hundreds of leading biomedical scientists working at the forefront of their fields. In addition, through its grants program and other activities, HHMI is helping to enhance science education at all levels and maintain the vigor of biomedical science worldwide. HHMI's endowment at the end of the 2006 fiscal year was approximately $16.3 billion.

The Wellcome Trust is the largest charity in the United Kingdom. It funds innovative biomedical research, in the UK and internationally, spending around $1 billion each year to support the brightest scientists with the best ideas. The Wellcome Trust supports public debate about biomedical research and its impact on health and wellbeing.

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Jim Keeley
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