HHMI announces that its Janelia Farm Research Campus (JFRC) has established partnerships with the University of Cambridge and the University of Chicago to launch an interdisciplinary graduate program.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) announced today that its Janelia Farm Research Campus (JFRC) has established partnerships with the University of Cambridge and the University of Chicago to launch an interdisciplinary graduate program. The program will aim to attract a small number of outstanding graduate students who will benefit from doing their Ph.D. research in the collaborative, interdisciplinary environment at Janelia Farm.

The announcement comes as HHMI begins its second round of recruitment for Janelia Farm group leaders, who are independent scientists, similar to the HHMI investigators based at universities and independent research institutes. This second phase of recruitment follows the successful appointment of seven group leaders earlier this year.

As HHMI's first freestanding campus, Janelia Farm will provide a setting where small research groups can explore fundamental biomedical questions in a highly collaborative, interdisciplinary culture. When it opens in the summer of 2006, Janelia Farm researchers will work toward two main goals: Identifying the general principles that govern how information is processed by neuronal circuits; and developing imaging technologies and computational methods for image analysis.

The Graduate Program

The small size of research groups and the highly interactive culture planned for Janelia Farm will provide a strong training and mentoring environment for graduate students. “At the same time, Ph.D. students will add to the vitality of Janelia Farm, as these individuals often provide a unique perspective, communicating across unexpected lines and initiating innovative avenues of collaborative research,” said Kevin Moses, Associate Director for Science and Training of the Janelia Farm Research Campus.

The partnership program with the University of Cambridge and the University of Chicago will allow students to benefit from Janelia Farm's unique research environment as well as the universities' outstanding academic resources, and the program will help foster interaction between scientists at the three institutions.

“The University of Cambridge has a longstanding history of major contributions to the biological sciences. This highly innovative collaboration will give students the benefit of the University graduate training facilities, coupled with access to the state-of-the-art labs at Janelia Farm. We anticipate that much exciting science will result from this novel program,” said Roger Keynes, who is Director of the Cambridge/Janelia Farm joint graduate program and Reader in Neurobiology at the University of Cambridge.

The joint training partnership between HHMI and the University of Chicago's Division of the Biological Sciences will be administered through Chicago's new Interdisciplinary Scientist Training Program. Led by Harinder Singh, Louis Block Professor and HHMI investigator, the program features flexible training, diverse faculty participation and will grant jointly trained students the Ph.D. in biology. “As biologists we are always drawn to bold innovative experiments and thus are delighted with this collaboration with HHMI which fits squarely into such a category," said James Madara, Dean of the Biological Sciences Division and University Vice President for Medical Affairs at the University of Chicago.

The University of Cambridge is one of the oldest universities in the world and one of the largest in the United Kingdom. Its reputation for outstanding academic achievement is known world-wide and reflects the intellectual achievement of its students, as well as the world-class original research carried out by the staff of the University and its Colleges. One of the world's preeminent research institutions, the University of Chicago was founded to create new knowledge and disseminate it through teaching, publication, and the development of discoveries and new technologies for the public benefit. The University of Chicago is characterized by a fundamental commitment to rigorous scholarship in and across traditional academic disciplines.

Each student will have two advisors: his or her Janelia Farm group leader and a faculty member at the partner university. Together, the group will develop an individual education plan for the student. The two universities will provide the academic training required to support this interdisciplinary program—from mathematics and computer science to physics, chemistry, and biology. Students will generally spend their first year at the university, pursuing academic courses and/or collaborative research projects, then spending the remaining years of their graduate research at Janelia Farm. Students are expected to receive their Ph.D. degree in 4 to 5 years.

The first class of graduate students will enter the program in the fall of 2007, following recruitment during the 2006/2007 academic year. Janelia Farm group leaders and faculty representatives of the two universities will interview applicants at Janelia Farm. Successful applicants will be admitted to either university and to a particular research group at Janelia Farm. The Ph.D. degree will be awarded by the partner university.

Group Leader Recruitment

The Institute has begun a second open international competition to identify group leaders from the fields of biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics and physics. When the campus is fully operational, there will be 20 to 30 group leaders and a permanent research staff of about 300 scientists.

HHMI will accept applications for group leader positions from researchers at any career stage. The applications will be reviewed by groups of existing HHMI researchers, supplemented with physicists, engineers, and computer scientists, as needed. The deadline for completed applications is December 1, 2005.

“Although the Institute has chosen to focus on research on information processing in neuronal circuits and the development of imaging technologies, it will consider applications from exceptionally talented individuals working outside these defined areas,” said Gerald M. Rubin, Director of the Janelia Farm Research Campus and Vice President at HHMI.

In the first phase of recruitment for the Janelia Farm group leaders, which was completed in the spring of 2005, HHMI employed both targeted recruitment and an open international competition to identify candidates. The competition was open to scientists at any career stage. More than 300 applications were received and seven group leaders were selected.

For More Information

Jim Keeley 301-215-8858