2009 HHMI Early Career Scientist Competition
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) is pleased to announce a national competition to select as many as 70 outstanding early career scientists. This competition will enable HHMI to identify the nation's best biomedical scientists at a critical early stage of their faculty careers, and to provide them with flexible funding to develop scientific programs of exceptional merit. HHMI seeks scientists in all areas of basic biological and biomedical research, and in areas of chemistry, physics, computer science, and engineering that are directly related to biology or medicine.
This new program comes at a critical moment for the nation and the long-term health of its medical research infrastructure. This initiative responds to the very real challenges faced by promising early career-stage scientists in an era of constrained research funding. In today's environment, early career faculty find it difficult to establish and develop research programs. They often begin their first independent position with institutional start-up funds to support their research. However, they are soon under pressure to apply for federal research grants. Even if they are successful in obtaining funding the first time, getting a second grant or renewing a grant is difficult.
HHMI is addressing this specific threat to the vitality of the nation's biomedical research capabilities with its new Early Career Scientist Program, which will provide a non-renewable HHMI appointment for faculty who have led independent research laboratories for two to six years. Successful applicants will receive full salary support as well as research funding and equipment, allowing them to devote their time and energy to making discoveries in the laboratory and mentoring the next generation of scientists. HHMI seeks to enable these scientists to pursue research for which they have a passion—and which may hold the potential for achieving the greatest impact—rather than tailoring their research plans in order to win approval from funding agencies.
Competition for these appointments will be extremely keen. The Institute expects that successful applicants would be among the most outstanding in the nation. Given their early career stage, applicants will be evaluated on their potential for significant research productivity and originality, as judged by their doctoral and postdoctoral work, their research plans, and results from their independent research program.
HHMI welcomes applications from outstanding women and minorities underrepresented in the sciences. HHMI is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, or other characteristics, in accordance with applicable law.
Who Should Apply?
Researchers holding a faculty appointment at one of the more than 200 eligible institutions may apply directly to HHMI in this competition, and institutional approval or endorsement is not part of the initial application. HHMI will place no restriction on the number of applications from any eligible institution, but normally no more than two appointments will be made at any one eligible institution.
Eligibility for this competition will be limited to scientists who hold an appointment as assistant professor (or higher academic rank) in a tenure-track faculty position at an eligible institution. For institutions that do not have a tenure track, eligible candidates must hold an appointment that reflects a significant and tangible institutional commitment. Applicants must have between two and six years of experience since first appointed as an assistant professor (or equivalent). To meet this requirement, the applicant's first faculty position as assistant professor must have begun no earlier than June 1, 2002, and no later than September 1, 2006.
HHMI wishes to direct its support where it will have the greatest impact. Individuals who are selected as early career scientists may therefore hold only one other early career award from a federal agency—for example, the NIH Director's New Innovator Award or the NSF CAREER Award—or comparable award from a foundation. If a successful candidate has multiple early career awards, one or more would have to be terminated or relinquished prior to appointment as an HHMI early career scientist. Applicants may hold one or more grants from the NIH, NSF, or other entity. Researchers without such grants are also eligible for this competition.
- Have a doctoral degree.
- Hold a tenure-track position as assistant professor or higher academic rank at one of the eligible institutions. If the applicant is at an institution that does not have tenure, he or she must hold an equivalent appointment. Federal government employees are not eligible.
- Have between two and six years of experience since first appointment as a tenure-track assistant professor (or equivalent). To meet this requirement, the applicant's first faculty position as assistant professor must have begun no earlier than June 1, 2002, and no later than September 1, 2006. An applicant who has been granted a tenure clock extension or a leave of absence by his or her institution for reasons such as family care needs, illness, or military service may request a comparable extension of the career-stage range. Such applicants should provide information about the tenure clock extension or leave of absence received from their host institution in an email to email@example.com.
- Non-tenure-track appointments such as instructor and research assistant professor do not contribute at either end of the two- to six-year career-stage range. Professional employment in industry before beginning an academic career and at a level higher than postdoctoral researcher will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine if the experience would be considered as part of the two- to six-year range.
Level of Support
Those selected will become full-time HHMI employees, and their full salary and benefits will be paid by HHMI. In addition, HHMI will provide a research budget for salary support of personnel and supplies. In the first, second, and third years of an early career scientist's six-year term, the laboratory budget will be $150,000, $200,000, and $250,000 per year, respectively. In the final three years, the laboratory budget will be $300,000 per year. Periodically, HHMI will provide opportunities to purchase critical research equipment that may be needed for new projects.
HHMI does not expect to renovate laboratory space for those appointed as early career scientists. Universities and research institutions at which early career scientists are located will become HHMI host institutions (if they are not already), and HHMI will make payments to the host institution for occupancy of an early career scientist's research and office space.
Integration with Faculty Appointments
The early career scientists will retain their faculty or other status at their host institution, with all of the attendant rights and responsibilities. HHMI expects that early career scientists will devote 75 percent of their time to the direct conduct of biomedical research. Up to 25 percent of their time may be spent on teaching, patient care, committee responsibilities, and other nonresearch activities. Like other HHMI employees, early career scientists will not be able to receive compensation from their host institution or its affiliates for activities such as patient care.
Early career scientists may consult for for-profit companies subject to the same policies and procedures HHMI has set for its investigators. In addition, intellectual property, patents, licenses, and collaborations with industry will be handled according to the same policies that apply to HHMI investigators. Information about these and other HHMI research polices can be found here: www.hhmi.org/about/research/policies.html.
The Application Process
A prospective applicant must indicate his or her intention to apply by April 30, 2008, at 2 p.m. ET, through the electronic application available through the HHMI website.
Applications will be accepted between May 1, 2008, and June 10, 2008, at 2 p.m. ET from those candidates who have already registered their intent to apply.
The application period is now closed.
The application must be submitted electronically and include the following documents:
- A curriculum vitae, bibliography (in reverse chronological order), and a list of current research support including institutional start-up funds, using the NIH PHS 398 biographical sketch format but following specific instructions provided on the website; the NIH three-page limit does not apply if additional pages are needed to provide a complete bibliography.
- A summary of the applicant's major scientific achievements (not more than 250 words).
- A summary of the main research directions that this appointment would enable (not more than 250 words).
- A summary (not to exceed to 3,000 words) of your current and planned research program, with up to one page of figures and a list of essential references. Your figures and accompanying short legends may be interleaved within the body of the text of your summary. (Figures, legends and essential references are not included in 3,000-word limit.)
- Five selected publications that document the applicant's most important scientific contributions and a paragraph summarizing the importance of each publication.
- Semifinalists will be asked to solicit two letters of reference, and their institution will be contacted to verify eligibility. No letters of reference are required at the time of initial application, and updates will be accepted only from semifinalists.
Selection of Early Career Scientists
HHMI will employ a review process that utilizes a panel of distinguished scientists to evaluate applications, leading to the selection of semifinalists by late 2008. Institutions whose faculty members are selected will be notified and will be asked to confirm that the candidate's status at the institution meets our eligibility requirements. Following review, finalists will be offered appointments as HHMI early career scientists as early as May 2009.