HHMI urges its investigators to take risks, explore unproven avenues, and embrace the unknown – even if it means uncertainty or the chance of failure. They identify and pursue significant biological questions in a rigorous and deep manner. They develop new tools and methods that enable creative experimental approaches to biological questions, when necessary bringing to bear concepts or techniques from other disciplines. They forge links between basic biology and medicine, opening new pathways for disease diagnosis and drug discovery. They are active in service and training in their host institutions, and in the greater scientific community.
By employing scientists as investigators rather than awarding them grants for specific research projects, HHMI provides its researchers long-term, flexible funding that gives them the freedom to explore and, if necessary, change direction. HHMI investigators have support to follow their ideas through to fruition, even if that process takes a very long time. Our philosophy of selecting “people, not projects” seeks researchers who bring innovative approaches to the study of many different biological problems through the biomedical disciplines of genetics, cell biology, developmental biology, biochemistry, and neuroscience as well as adjacent fields of biophysics, chemical biology, biomedical engineering, and computational biology. Plant scientists, evolutionary biologists, and patient-oriented researchers are also in the ranks of current investigators.
HHMI investigators are based at host institutions across the United States. This arrangement currently represents collaborative partnerships with more than 60 research institutions. Investigators continue to participate in educational and administrative activities at their host institutions and receive additional research support from a variety of sources. The current group of HHMI investigators includes 16 Nobel laureates and more than 170 members of the National Academy of Sciences.
HOW TO BECOME AN INVESTIGATOR
Through periodic competitions, HHMI accepts applications from researchers at more than 200 research institutions across the United States, with the aim of identifying individuals who have the potential to make significant contributions to science. Investigators continue to be based at their host institutions; however, HHMI investigators and some of their laboratory personnel are Institute employees and are supported by HHMI field offices throughout the country. Each investigator receives his or her full salary, benefits, and a research budget from HHMI. Appointment is for a seven-year term (previously five years, prior to February, 2017), which may be renewed after an exacting review process.