HHMI will appoint up to 20 new biomedical researchers through a national open competition.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) announced today that it seeks to appoint up to 20 new biomedical researchers through a national open competition. HHMI recently increased the standard term for HHMI investigators from five to seven years, providing longer term, flexible support as these scientists explore new research territory. The initiative represents an investment of approximately $168 million in basic biomedical research over the next seven years.

“We’re introducing the new seven-year appointment in recognition of the fact that what many of these scientists are trying to do – open up new areas of research – is very difficult,” said HHMI President Erin O’Shea. “Giving a scientist seven years of stable support allows them to take more risk and achieve more transformative advances.”

The HHMI investigator competition is open to basic researchers and physician scientists at more than 200 eligible institutions who bring innovative approaches to the study of biological problems in biomedical disciplines, plant biology, evolutionary biology, biophysics, chemical biology, biomedical engineering, and computational biology. Those selected in this competition will receive a seven-year appointment to HHMI, which is renewable pending favorable scientific review.

HHMI encourages its investigators to push their research fields into new areas of inquiry. By employing scientists as HHMI investigators—rather than awarding them research grants—the Institute is guided by the principle of “people, not projects.” HHMI investigators have the freedom to explore and, if necessary, to change direction in their research. Moreover, they have support to follow their ideas through to fruition—even if that process takes many years.

“Over the last 30 years, the HHMI Investigator Program has had a tremendous positive impact on progress in biomedical research,” said HHMI Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer David Clapham. “Each new group of investigators brings energy and vitality. It’s a privilege to work alongside these exceptional scientists and enable them to explore new scientific territory.”

Candidates apply directly to HHMI. Applications must be received by June 27, 2017. Successful candidates are expected to meet the following criteria:

  • Hold a PhD, and/or MD (or the equivalent).
  • Hold a tenured or tenure-track position as assistant professor or higher academic rank (or the equivalent) at an eligible U.S. institution. Federal government employees are not eligible.
  • Have more than 3, but no more than 12 years, of post-training, professional experience.
  • Be the principal investigator on one or more active, national, peer-reviewed research grants with an initial duration of at least three years.

Distinguished scientists will evaluate the applications from the candidates, leading to the selection of semifinalists by January 22, 2018. All semifinalists will be expected to attend a scientific symposium at HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus in April 2018 and make a brief research presentation to HHMI scientific leadership and a final advisory panel. Finalists will be announced in Spring 2018, with appointments starting as early as September 1, 2018.

HHMI announced its last open competition in 2014. That competition resulted in the selection of 26 of the nation’s top biomedical scientists as HHMI investigators in 2015. Once selected, HHMI provides each investigator with his or her full salary, benefits, and a research budget over their initial seven-year appointment. The Institute will also cover other expenses, including the purchase of critical equipment.

Through the HHMI Investigator Program, the Institute has joined with more than 60 distinguished U.S. universities, hospitals, institutes, and medical schools to create an environment that provides flexible, long-term support for more than 300 Hughes scientists and members of their research teams. HHMI investigators are widely recognized for their creativity and research accomplishments: more than 160 HHMI investigators are members of the National Academy of Sciences and there are currently 15 Nobel laureates who are HHMI investigators.


The Howard Hughes Medical Institute

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute plays an important role in advancing scientific research and education in the United States. Its scientists, located across the country and around the world, have made important discoveries that advance both human health and our fundamental understanding of biology. The Institute also aims to transform science education into a creative, interdisciplinary endeavor that reflects the excitement of real research. HHMI's headquarters are located in Chevy Chase, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C.

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