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HHMI-Host Collaboration

We collaborate with dozens of universities and research organizations nationwide to move science forward.

Collaboration Agreement

Executed prior to the appointment of the first HHMI Investigator or Freeman Hrabowski Scholar (each, an “HHMI Laboratory Head”) at a host institution and updated periodically, the collaboration agreement between HHMI and the host institution documents how HHMI and the host institution conduct their collaborative research efforts.  The collaboration agreement addresses issues such as:

  • the dual status of Investigators and Freeman Hrabowski Scholars; 
  • the assignment of lab space to HHMI Laboratory Heads and HHMI’s payment of occupancy fees; and
  • the ownership and commercialization of intellectual property arising in HHMI labs at the host.

Intellectual Property

All Investigators and Freeman Hrabowski Scholars, as well as lab personnel who become HHMI employees, generally are required to assign to HHMI any intellectual property that arises from their research. In turn, in accordance with the terms of the collaboration agreement between HHMI and the host institution, HHMI assigns its rights to the host institution, subject to a research use license retained by HHMI. The host institution typically then takes the lead in patenting or licensing that intellectual property in accordance with the terms of its collaboration agreement with HHMI and subject to compliance with HHMI’s policies. Relevant policies include, for example, HHMI’s policies requiring sharing of research tools and other publication-related materials, data, and software.

By comparison, HHMI’s own Janelia Research Campusexternal link, opens in a new tab is the only location at which HHMI itself has an active patenting and licensing program. Consistent with HHMI’s goal of making published research tools and other materials broadly available, Janelia actively shares new software and tools developed as a result of research there. Janelia’s Innovation Managementexternal link, opens in a new tab includes a current list of software, tools, and innovations available for licensing or optioning.


Research Policies

HHMI’s research policies can be a useful resource when questions arise.
Host institution personnel can contact the HHMI attorney assigned to their institution with questions about MTAs covering transfers of materials to HHMI laboratories at the site and the HHMI site attorney assigned to their institution with questions about any other types of agreements for HHMI laboratories or with general questions about HHMI’s research policies. 

HHMI Laboratory Heads at Host Institutions

We employ scientists — specifically, HHMI Investigators and Freeman Hrabowski Scholars — who lead HHMI labs at host institutions.

Investigator and Freeman Hrabowski Scholar Dual Status

While Investigators and Freeman Hrabowski Scholars remain physically based at the host institution and continue to serve as faculty members (or the equivalent if the host is not a university and does not use the term “faculty”), Investigators and Freeman Hrabowski Scholars are HHMI employees. HHMI laboratories typically include a mix of staff employed by HHMI and staff employed by or otherwise affiliated with the host institution. It is expected that Investigators and Freeman Hrabowski Scholars and their HHMI staff will have the same access to host institution resources, such as libraries, computers, dining, parking, and recreational privileges, as host institution faculty and staff.

Investigator and Freeman Hrabowski Scholar Salary and Benefits

As HHMI employees, Investigators and Freeman Hrabowski Scholars receive their salary and benefits from HHMI and not the host institution except as otherwise expressly permitted by HHMI policy. In the fall of 2018, HHMI moved to a new approach of setting lab head compensation consistently across host institutions and geographic locations using HHMI’s newly developed laboratory head salary scale. The design of HHMI’s salary scale reflects various factors, such as experience, degrees, and geographic region. One of HHMI’s goals in moving to a scale was to ensure that Investigators are well positioned to spend at least 75% of their professional effort, and Freeman Hrabowski Scholars are well positioned to spend at least 80% of their professional effort, in the active conduct of scientific research, as required by HHMI policy.

Administrative Service, Leadership Roles, and Salary Supplementation

Subject to HHMI’s approval, Investigators and Freeman Hrabowski Scholars may serve in leadership or management roles at nonprofit organizations other than their host institution. Subject to HHMI’s approval, Investigators and Freeman Hrabowski Scholars may provide administrative services to their host institution, including serving in leadership or management roles, and may be paid by their host institution for the administrative service: for example, as a department chair or as head of a division, institute, or core facility within the host or for similar administrative service to the host. For Investigators, time spent on such administrative service must fit within the 25% of professional time Investigators can spend on non-research professional activities. For Freeman Hrabowski Scholars, time spent on such administrative service must fit within the 20% of professional time Scholars can spend on non-research professional activities. We expect Investigators and Freeman Hrabowski Scholars to take this limit seriously and to be realistic in considering how much of their time non-research professional activities will require.


Non-Renewal of Investigator Appointments

Under HHMI’s standard procedures, an Investigator with an unsuccessful HHMI scientific review will have a non-renewable phase-out period of two years before their HHMI appointment ends. This standard phase-out period begins at the end of the current term or the first day of the month following the review, whichever date is later. During the phase-out period, the Investigator remains an HHMI employee with full salary and benefits, and HHMI continues to provide the Investigator with an operating budget for their research and make payments to the host institution under the collaboration agreement in place between HHMI and the host institution (e.g., occupancy fees for the Investigator’s space).


Science Operations Services

Investigators and Freeman Hrabowski Scholars at each HHMI host institution are supported by an HHMI Science Operations Services field office. Each office is led by a Science Operations manager, who acts as liaison to the host institution. Each office’s activities are coordinated with HHMI headquarters.

Examples of operational matters handled by an HHMI field office include:

  • Coordinating Investigator and Freeman Hrabowski Scholar purchases made using HHMI funds;
  • Coordinating human resources-related activities for Investigators, Freeman Hrabowski Scholars, and HHMI lab members, including work authorization issues for foreign national hires;  and
  • Assisting Investigators and Freeman Hrabowski Scholars with management of their HHMI budgets. 

The Science Operations Services office is usually the best initial contact at HHMI for host institution personnel on any matter having to do with the operations of HHMI laboratories at that host. The office also can refer host institution personnel to others within HHMI as needed, such as the HHMI scientific officer or HHMI attorney assigned to the site.

HHMI Communications

We coordinate with host institutions on external communications concerning Investigators and Freeman Hrabowski Scholars.

Contact: [email protected]


Host Institution Press Releases About Investigators or Freeman Hrabowski Scholars and Their Research

Host institutions should coordinate external communications concerning Investigators, Freeman Hrabowski Scholars, and their lab employees with HHMI. This includes external communications related to an Investigator’s or Freeman Hrabowski Scholar’s HHMI appointment; the publication of research findings; technology developed in an Investigator’s or Freeman Hrabowski Scholar’s laboratory; and prizes, awards, and honors received by an Investigator, Freeman Hrabowski Scholar, or an HHMI employee in an Investigator’s or Freeman Hrabowski Scholar’s laboratory.

Use of HHMI Name

HHMI has a reputation for excellence in conducting independent biomedical research and supporting innovative science education. The HHMI name is a valuable asset that must be protected. Therefore, HHMI is cautious about any use of its name by commercial entities. 

The HHMI signature is the primary expression of HHMI’s identity. The two elements of the HHMI signature are the logo “HHMI” with the logotype “Howard Hughes Medical Institute” underneath.

The HHMI signature and its elements should never be redrawn or modified unless prior approval has been obtained from HHMI.

Use of HHMI Logo

HHMI welcomes host institutions, grantees, and members of HHMI laboratories to use the HHMI logos (“HHMI Logos”) when designing presentations, announcements, or other communications about HHMI scientists, research and programs, in accordance with the following HHMI Logo Use Guidelines and the Terms of Use. 

HHMI Logo Use Guidelines

By following the design standards you help ensure that HHMI’s name and scientific role are consistently presented. Please read the following design standards and terms carefully before you use any of the HHMI Logos:

  1. Use the HHMI Logos only in the exact form (including color) provided by HHMI, without alteration or modification.
  2. Use the HHMI Logos only to accurately represent HHMI scientists, research, or programs.
  3. Maintain clear space around the HHMI Logos. Any other logo or design elements must be at least two full m-heights of space from the HHMI Logo. The minimum amount of clear space above the letter “i” in “hhmi” must be the m-height of the letter m.
  4. The HHMI Logos that include “Howard Hughes Medical Institute” must not be used below 1.5 inches in width due to legibility.
  5. Do not make any HHMI Logo larger than the marks of your institution.
  6. Do not incorporate any HHMI Logo into, or combine any HHMI Logo with, any other logo or design.
  7. Do not use any HHMI Logo in any way that reasonably could constitute endorsement of any commercial product or service.
  8. If requested by HHMI, you must immediately remove any HHMI Logo.
  9. All use of the HHMI Logos is subject to the Terms of Use.

These HHMI Logo Use Guidelines may change from time to time. Check periodically for updates. If you are not a permitted user of the HHMI Logos, or would like to use an HHMI Logo for a purpose not permitted above, please contact the Office of Communications.