HHMI, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation announce the International Research Scholars Program which aims to support up to 50 outstanding early career scientists worldwide.


  • Awardees will receive a total of $650,000 over five years.
  • Applications are due June 30, 2016.
  • Awardees will be notified in April 2017.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and partners, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, today announced an international program to select up to 50 outstanding early career scientists. The program’s aim is to help develop scientific talent worldwide.

The program represents a key piece in HHMI’s efforts to expand and enhance its support of international scientific research in the life sciences. “We are pleased to be joined in this initiative by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, and the Gulbenkian Foundation,” said HHMI President Robert Tjian. “Each organization shares a commitment to building international scientific capacity by identifying and supporting outstanding early career scientists who have the potential to be scientific leaders.”

HHMI and its partners have committed a total of $37.4 million for the International Research Scholars Program and will award each scientist who is selected a total of $650,000 over five years. The competition is open to scientists who have trained in the U.S. or United Kingdom for at least one year. Additionally, eligible scientists must have run their own labs for less than seven years, and work in one of the eligible countries.

Countries that are not eligible for this competition include the G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and United States), as well as countries identified by the U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) as being subject to comprehensive country or territory-wide sanctions or where current OFAC regulations prohibit U.S. persons or entities from engaging in the funding arrangements contemplated by this grant program. For this program, such sanctioned countries or territories currently include Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, and the Crimea region of Ukraine.

“We are expanding this program’s reach by broadening access to scientists in more countries,” said Erin O’Shea, HHMI vice president and chief scientific officer. O’Shea noted that the funding partnership recognizes that institutional support is critical in helping early career scientists establish independent research programs. Grants will be made only to institutions that can clearly support the activities of the grant recipient.

“Scientific innovation is the engine that underpins the discovery and development of new vaccines, drugs, diagnostics and other interventions needed to address global health inequities,” said Chris Wilson, senior advisor and former director of Discovery & Translational Sciences at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “International research scientists bring unique perspectives and novel approaches that can accelerate this process. Through this collaborative endeavor, the Gates Foundation, HHMI, the Wellcome Trust, and the Gulbenkian Foundation aim to identify and support the research undertaken by such scientists and to bring them into a community that fosters the careers of these promising individuals.”

Dr. Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, said: “This program brings together funding partners who recognise that investing in research is critical to improving health. Our message is as relevant in lower and middle income countries as it is in high income countries, and this program is one way that we can support world-class scientists wanting to return to non-G7 countries to shape excellent, locally driven health research.”

“One of our four statutory goals is to support science and the dissemination of scientific knowledge. This is achieved in part by contributing to the development of young scientists of outstanding potential who hold the promise of improving mankind’s condition through discoveries in basic science, favoring health and improving the quality of life,” said José Neves Adelino, chairman of the Management Committee of the Gulbenkian Science Institute and Trustee of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

In 2012, HHMI selected its first group of 28 international early career scientists. The researchers represented 12 countries and were chosen from 760 applicants. All the awardees trained in the United States as a graduate student or a postdoctoral fellow and published important research prior to being selected.

In the new international competition, HHMI and its partners are seeking top early career researchers from a wide variety of biomedical research fields. Applicants must have started their first independent research position on or after April 1, 2009. Awardees will be invited to participate in research meetings with scientists supported by the funders. These meetings facilitate the exchange of ideas, stimulate new research, and provide an opportunity for collaborative endeavors within the international scientific community.

The competition opens on March 29, 2016, and closes on June 30, 2016. Interested scientists can submit their applications on HHMI’s website,

Distinguished scientists will evaluate the candidates' applications. Semi-finalists will be selected in late December 2016 and members of the review panel will interview them in London in February 2017. Awardees will be notified in April 2017.


The Howard Hughes Medical Institute

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute plays a powerful role in advancing scientific research and education. 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 is headquartered in Chevy Chase, Maryland. For more information, please visit

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people – especially those with the fewest resources – have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

The Wellcome Trust

The Wellcome Trust is a global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health. We support bright minds in science, the humanities and the social sciences, as well as education, public engagement and the application of research to medicine. Our investment portfolio gives us the independence to support such transformative work as the sequencing and understanding of the human genome, research that established front-line drugs for malaria, and Wellcome Collection, our free venue for the incurably curious that explores medicine, life and art.

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is an international foundation that bears the name of businessman, art collector and philanthropist of Armenian origin, Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian (1869-1955). For almost 60 years, the Foundation has been carrying out extensive activities both in Portugal and abroad through the development of in-house projects -- or in partnership with other institutions -- and by awarding scholarships and grants. Headquartered in Lisbon, where Calouste Gulbenkian spent his last years, the Foundation is also home to a scientific investigation centre in Oeiras, and runs delegations in Paris and London -- cities where Calouste Gulbenkian lived.

Media Contact

HHMI International Programs