Statement of HHMI’s Research Philosophy

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is dedicated to promoting knowledge and advancing human health through discovery research in the basic biomedical sciences. HHMI’s guiding principle is to support ‘people, not projects’ because we believe that it is individuals who – with creativity, curiosity, and persistence – break through barriers to advance scientific knowledge.

In carrying out our mission, we are committed to supporting discovery science in basic biomedical research fields for public benefit. Equally, we are committed to ensuring that scientists we employ as HHMI Investigators and Janelia Research Campus Group Leaders have great flexibility in conducting their research and are free to promptly publish and broadly share their results, including tools and data. Our policies and practices reflect these core research values.

We expect scientists employed by HHMI, including HHMI Investigators and Janelia Group Leaders, to conduct all of their work consistent with these core values as they are reflected in HHMI policies and practices. Because of their affiliation with the universities, hospitals and other research institutions that host their laboratories, HHMI Investigators are also subject to their host institution’s policies and practices. These typically align well with HHMI’s.

When HHMI scientists propose to engage with other organizations whose policies and practices do not align with HHMI’s, we weigh any competing considerations. Our goal is to strike a balance that allows our scientists to proceed with their research priorities, while also protecting our core research values.

Research Policies

HHMI's scientific research is governed by policies that address the conduct of research, the sharing of data and materials, collaborations, and intellectual property. The policies establish high standards for scientific and ethical conduct.

The Conduct of Science

Guidelines for Scientific Research

These guidelines describe general standards for conduct in research and scholarship. They are intended to establish a common understanding of expectations and responsibilities relating to research in HHMI's laboratories, thereby promoting the quality and integrity of the work and interactions in the laboratories and helping to prevent scientific misconduct.

Research Misconduct

As an organization dedicated to biomedical research in the public interest, HHMI expects that its scientists will conduct research and engage in related academic activities according to the highest research and ethical standards. HHMI’s commitment to these standards embraces the belief that integrity, responsibility, and accountability are part of the fabric of science. Scientific research is, ultimately, a cooperative endeavor based on the central principle of the pursuit of truth.

Sharing Research Materials, Data, and Software

Sharing Published Materials/Responsibilities of HHMI Authors

This policy establishes HHMI’s expectations that all HHMI laboratory heads, whether based at host institutions or at HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus, will include in their publications sufficient information about their experimental methods and procedures, and make available data, software, and tangible research materials, to enable other scientists to reproduce and extend the results of all publications on which the HHMI laboratory head is an author.

Public Access to Publications

This policy establishes HHMI's expectations relating to public accessibility of publications resulting from research in HHMI laboratories. This policy applies to all HHMI laboratory heads, including investigators and Janelia Research Campus group leaders and fellows.

Materials Transfers

The sharing of biological and other research materials among laboratories is an essential aspect of scientific citizenship. In that spirit, HHMI expects its laboratory heads, and all members of the academic research community, to make their published materials available for research use by other scientists and to handle requests for such materials expeditiously.

Research Collaborations

HHMI recognizes the importance of scientific collaborations between its laboratories and other scientists and strongly encourages such collaborations as an essential part of scientific research.

Funding for HHMI Laboratories

Company Funding Arrangements—Host-Based Sites

HHMI’s host institutions may accept funding from companies to support research in the laboratories of HHMI investigators under the circumstances described in this policy.

Funding Arrangements with Nonprofit, Individual, and Governmental Sources—Host-Based Sites

HHMI’s host institutions may accept funding from nonprofit, individual, and governmental sources to support research in the laboratories of HHMI investigators under the circumstances described in this policy.

Confidentiality Agreements

Confidential Disclosure Agreements

A confidential disclosure agreement (CDA) is an agreement in which one or both parties agree to maintain certain information in confidence and use it only for specified purposes. CDAs may also be called nondisclosure agreements, secrecy agreements, or confidentiality agreements.


Consulting for Companies – General Policy (SC-500)

This policy provides general rules applicable to any service by HHMI laboratory heads as consultants to companies.

Company Talks, Conferences, and Seminars 

This policy applies to consulting that involves giving a talk to company employees or participating in a one- or two-day conference or seminar convened by a company.

Consulting for and Equity Ownership in Start-Up and other Private Companies

This policy describes the special rules applicable to consulting for, and equity ownership in, start-up and other private companies.

Service as a Member of a Company's Board of Directors

This policy applies to service by HHMI laboratory heads as members of a company's board of directors.

Consulting in Connection with Litigation  

This policy applies to consulting by HHMI laboratory heads in connection with litigation, such as service as an expert witness.

Service to Nonprofit Organizations and Government Agencies

This policy describes special rules for consulting arrangements between all HHMI laboratory employees, other than directors or managers of shared resource facilities at HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus, and nonprofit entities or government organizations.

Intellectual Property and Licensing

Intellectual Property

As a medical research organization, HHMI conducts scientific research in the public interest. HHMI has adopted this intellectual property policy to help ensure that inventions, discoveries, and other results of HHMI's research are made available for the benefit of the public, and that the associated financial costs and rewards are fairly allocated.

Intellectual Property Protection and Licensing at Host Institutions

This policy applies to the licensing to companies of intellectual property developed in HHMI laboratories at host institutions. Under HHMI's collaborative arrangements with its host institutions, the host institution is responsible for efforts to commercialize intellectual property developed in HHMI laboratories at the site.

Human Subjects Research

Human Subjects Research

This policy applies to all HHMI investigators and all HHMI employees in their laboratories, who are engaged in, or are contemplating engaging in, human subjects research.

Export Control and Sanctions Compliance

Export Control and Sanctions Compliance

This policy provides guidance to HHMI personnel on compliance with U.S. export control and sanctions laws and regulations.

Other Policies for HHMI Investigators

The policies in this group apply to HHMI investigators only. The scientists at the Janelia Research Campus are not subject to these policies.

Investigator Administrative and Non-Research Activities and Salary Supplementation for Administrative Service to Host 

This policy describes the types of administrative service and other non-research activities that investigators may perform and explains circumstances under which an HHMI investigator may receive a salary supplement for administrative services provided to his or her host institution.


HHMI's expectation is that investigators will remain at the host institution at which they were initially appointed. However, HHMI investigators may transfer to another HHMI host institution once during their employment as an HHMI investigator.

Research at Institutions Other Than the Host Institution

HHMI believes that an investigator's scientific program is generally aided by concentration of the investigator's research activities in a single location, where these activities can be better managed and are, as a consequence, more effective. Similarly, concentration in a single location benefits an investigator's non-research activities, including mentoring students and postdoctoral fellows as well as fulfilling responsibilities to the host institution. Accordingly, HHMI generally prefers that investigators conduct their research program at a single host institution.

Sabbatical Leave for Investigators

This policy applies to HHMI investigators at host-based sites who would like to take sabbatical leave from their host institution. It does not apply to group leaders at HHMI's Janelia Research Campus.

Investigator Phase-out and Gift Options

This policy describes support provided to HHMI Investigators at host-based sites during a non-renewable phase-out period. In addition, it sets forth options for HHMI Investigators to receive a gift of research funding to their host institution at the end of an HHMI appointment.  

Other Policies for Janelia Laboratories

Janelia Research Campus Policy on Grants, Fellowships, and Awards

This policy applies to all researchers at Janelia who would like to apply for and accept grants, fellowships, and other awards.