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Frequently Asked Questions HHMI International Program


What is HHMI and what does it do?
A nonprofit medical research organization, HHMI was established in 1953 by the aviator-industrialist Howard Hughes. The Institute, headquartered in Chevy Chase, Maryland, is one of the largest philanthropies in the world, with an endowment of $12.8 billion at the close of its 2004 fiscal year. HHMI spent $573 million in support of biomedical research and $80 million for support of a variety of science education and other grants programs in fiscal 2004.

Why does HHMI support scientists outside the United States?
The scope of science is international. The global problems of infectious and parasitic diseases demand global solutions, and international collaboration and cooperation invigorates every field of research. HHMI is committed to fostering research in the international arena and to encouraging scientists to stay and work in their home countries, where they may also have access to special populations not available to researchers in the U.S.

What kinds of international support does HHMI offer?

  • The International Research Scholars Program supports outstanding scientists who are contributing significantly to the understanding of basic biological processes or disease mechanisms. There are three initiatives: one for scientists working in the Baltics, Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and Ukraine; another for scientists working in Latin America and Canada; and a third for scientists worldwide who are studying infectious diseases and parasitology.
  • An HHMI grant to the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) supports a program to help launch the careers of promising molecular biologists in countries that have both HHMI and EMBO funding.
  • HHMI supports periodic scientific workshops and laboratory courses outside the United States, at the home institutions of HHMI international research scholars. The courses are intended to help build an infrastructure for biomedical research in regions where the scholars work and to strengthen the exchange of information between the United States and the international scientific community.
  • HHMI funds costs associated with efforts to strengthen connections among the international scholars from all the programs together with the HHMI Investigator community in the US.

Who is eligible for grants?
HHMI seeks to support individual scientists of the highest quality in their home countries.

  • Scientists seeking support from the International Research Scholars Program in the Baltics, Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and Ukraine must hold a full-time research appointment in Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, or Ukraine.
  • Researchers holding full-time research positions in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela may apply for grants from the International Research Scholars Program for Latin America and Canada.
  • Scientists doing infectious diseases and parasitology research in any country except the United States and the United Kingdom are eligible to apply for support from the International Research Scholars Program in Infectious Diseases and Parasitology.

Can scientists apply any time?
HHMI conducts competitions for the International Research Scholar programs at five-year intervals. Infectious diseases and parasitology grants and grants to scientists in the Baltics, Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and Ukraine are being awarded in 2005. A competition for grants to scientists in eligible Latin American countries and Canada is open now. The application deadline is September 14, 2005, and awards will be announced in October 2006.

Who benefits from HHMI international grants?
A portion of each grant must be allocated to shared resources, with the goal of enriching the overall scientific environment in the scholar's department and institution. Grants can be used to support graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, for equipment and supplies, and for travel and publication costs.

How much does HHMI spend internationally?
Since the international program began in 1991, the Institute has awarded more than $115 million to support the work of outstanding scientists in 38 countries.

Does HHMI support clinical trials or public health initiatives?
No. All research supported by HHMI must focus on basic biological processes and disease mechanisms. Epidemiology research is eligible if it is directed toward an understanding of disease distribution in populations or of factors that may suggest causes or preventive strategies.

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Jim Keeley
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