Issue Date: April 20, 2009
HHMI Backs Young Researchers
HOWARD HUGHES Medical Institute (HHMI) has announced the names of the first beneficiaries of its new early-career funding program. The philanthropic biomedical research organization will invest about $200 million over six years in the 50 researchers.
The new HHMI grantees include nine professors with ties to chemistry and biochemistry: Sean F. Brady, Rockefeller University; Martin D. Burke, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Russell A. DeBose-Boyd, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas; Tamir Gonen, University of Washington, Seattle; Jeffrey S. Kieft, University of Colorado, Denver; Rob Knight, University of Colorado, Boulder; Ming Lei, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Maria Spies, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; and Brent R. Stockwell, Columbia University. They will begin six-year, nonrenewable appointments to HHMI this September.
The initiative was the brainchild of Thomas R. Cech, who stepped down as HHMI president at the end of March to return to teaching and research at the University of Colorado, Boulder (C&EN, April 21, 2008, page 52). The program is intended to support young researchers who are transitioning from start-up funding provided by their institutions to external grants. At such a time, “pressure to secure federal grant money may lead to ‘safe’ grant proposals,” HHMI says. “As a result, creative and potentially transformative research projects may fall by the wayside.”
Given these realities, Cech says, “we saw a tremendous opportunity for HHMI to impact the research community by freeing promising scientists to pursue their best ideas during this early stage of their careers.” What’s more, if their initial ideas don’t work out, the scientists are free to change the direction of their research.
HHMI will hold the next competition for scientists seeking early career funding in 2012.
- Chemical & Engineering News
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