Graphic with text: Freeman Hrabowski Scholars Program, $8.6m potential support per scholar, up to 30 scholars every other year, 10 years potential appointment per scholar

For US science, one of today’s most pressing challenges is to maximize scientific impact by building a workforce that fully reflects our increasingly diverse country. HHMI is committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in academic science at key points along career pathways, from undergraduate to tenured faculty. 

In 2022, HHMI launched the Freeman Hrabowski Scholars program to support outstanding early career faculty. Scientists are selected for their potential to become leaders in their research fields and to create diverse and inclusive lab environments in which everyone can thrive. Eligible research areas include all basic biomedical science disciplines, as well as plant biology, evolutionary biology, biophysics, chemical biology, biomedical engineering, and computational biology.  

Scholars are appointed to a five-year term, renewable for a second five-year term after a successful progress evaluation. Each Scholar receives up to $8.6 million over 10 years, including full salary, benefits, a research budget, and scientific equipment. They also participate in professional development to advance their leadership and mentorship skills.  

HHMI selected 31 Freeman Hrabowski Scholars in 2023 and expects to hold future competitions every other year.

“In keeping with HHMI’s ‘people, not projects’ ethos, we want Scholars to follow their own scientific curiosity, ask innovative research questions, and go where the science takes them.”

Leslie B. Vosshall, HHMI vice president and chief scientific officer

About Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski III

The Freeman Hrabowski Scholars Program honors the contributions of Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski III, President Emeritus of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), and a major force in increasing the number of scientists, engineers, and physicians from backgrounds underrepresented in science in the United States. Dr. Hrabowski’s leadership sparked the development of new and growing programs at UMBC, HHMI, and other institutions around the US, including the renowned Meyerhoff Scholars Program for undergraduate students.

Freeman Hrabowski Scholars are employed by HHMI and maintain an academic appointment and lab at their research institutions, like HHMI Investigators. The appointment is a five-year term as an HHMI lab head, renewable for an additional five-year term following a successful progress evaluation. Scholars receive generous and flexible support from HHMI, including full salary and benefits, a research budget, and eligibility to participate in HHMI capital equipment purchasing programs.    

Freeman Hrabowski Scholars prioritize scientific excellence in their own research, while fostering an inclusive lab environment and becoming role models of inclusive lab leadership. Through this approach, this program seeks to support both current and future generations of scientists.  

Scholars are required to spend at least 80 percent of their time on their research; the remainder may be spent on related professional activities such as teaching, academic service, patient care, and consulting (subject to HHMI’s consulting policies). In addition, the program aims to protect Scholars’ time by directly incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts into the work of trainee mentorship and the active conduct of research. Scientists in this program have freedom to change their research focus, following their scientific curiosity.  

Scholars also participate in professional development to enhance their leadership and mentorship skills, with particular emphasis on supporting trainees from races and ethnicities currently underrepresented in US science. In addition, Scholars join HHMI’s broader community, contributing to scientific meetings and events alongside HHMI Investigators, Janelia Research Campus Scientists, HHMI Professors, Hanna Gray Fellows, Gilliam Fellows, and others representing a range of career stages. 

For more information about key terms and expectations, see the 2023 program announcement (PDF).

The 2023 competition was open to individuals who:   

  • hold a PhD and/or MD (or equivalent)  
  • began their first post-training position and a tenure-track (or equivalent) faculty position on or after July 1, 2018, or have accepted an offer for a tenure-track (or equivalent) position that begins no later than July 1, 2023  
  • maintain a tenure-track appointment or equivalent at an eligible US institution; federal government employees are not eligible  
  • have a research focus in any area of basic biomedical science, as well as plant biology, evolutionary biology, biophysics, chemical biology, biomedical engineering, and/or computational biology  
  • are authorized to work in the US or can obtain work authorization for the duration of employment; HHMI sponsors visas for eligible individuals  

HHMI seeks a broad and diverse applicant pool. We encourage applications from individuals who are members of groups underrepresented in science. Because the Freeman Hrabowski Scholars program is an employment program, and HHMI is committed to equal opportunity employment, all qualified applicants receive consideration without regard to sex, race, color, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, protected veteran status, disability, ancestry, genetic status or characteristic, citizenship, or other legally protected status.  

This is an open competition and there are no limits on the number of applicants or awardees from an institution. 

Application process

The application includes the following components:   

  • Brief summary of prior research  
  • Description of ongoing and planned research program  
  • Three selected scientific contributions (e.g., publications, preprints deposited in a repository, software, datasets, technologies) the applicant would like to highlight, as well as paragraphs describing the significance and impact of each contribution  
  • Responses to HHMI culture and climate questions focused on mentorship, understanding of systemic inequity, exclusion, and lack of representation in academia in the US, and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in science  
  • Two letters of support from mentors knowledgeable about the applicant’s scientific research, research skills, and research training (could include PhD and postdoctoral mentors and/or others)  
  • Letter of support from department chair at the semi-finalist stage  
  • Additional applicant information such as a bibliography, training and employment history, and lists of current research support and professional activities  

Selection process

Applications are rigorously reviewed by scientific experts and experts in diversity, equity, and inclusion.   

Semi-finalists are invited to record a video presentation describing their research accomplishments and research plans. They also join a virtual advisory panel meeting to give a brief presentation and answer questions. 

Competition closed

Announcement of next competition anticipated early 2024.

Key dates

  • May 26, 2022 
    Applications open 
  • Sept. 28, 2022 
    Applications due 3 p.m. ET 
  • Oct. 5, 2022 
    Letters of support due 
  • Early Jan. 2023 
    Applicants notified of status 
  • Feb. 27 – March 1, 2023 
    Semifinalist presentations (virtual)
  • March 2023 
    Scholars selected and notified 
  • April 2023 
    Intent to accept award due 
  • Sept. 1, 2023 
    Projected start date