HELP WANTED: Deep Pocketed Funder Seeks 25 Brilliant Biomedical Researchers

Howard Hughes Medical Institute is asking the brightest minds in biomedical research to apply for a job. Researchers interested in the coveted HHMI Investigator openings should polish up their resumes and start calling references now—competition for a chunk of $150 million in funding is tough as nails, and that deadline will sneak right up on you.

The latest Investigators competition, which kicked off in January, will add up to 25 new researchers to HHMI’s team of more than 300 hot shot scientists, of which 17 hold Nobel Prizes. The deadline for application is June 3, and winners will be announced in early 2015. The last competition was in 2012. 

Howard Hughes Medical Institute is the second-wealthiest foundation in the United States, next to Gates, and funds biomedical research and to a lesser extent STEM education. The institute is a unique funder in that, rather than awarding lump sums to projects, they put grantees right on the payroll, with salary, benefits and research budget. They call it the “people not projects” approach, with the idea that the best way to spur innovative research is to give the smartest people some room to explore. Commitment-phobes need not apply, as the appointment is for five years, with the possibility of renewal. The institute is mostly virtual, as awardees stay at their respective institutions—more than 200 schools participate—with full backing from HHMI. 

The next round of Investigators will be in good company. In the 2012 round, 1,155 researchers applied, and following a science symposium in which 59 semifinalists gave a presentation, 27 elite scientists were chosen, to continue their research on a wide array of topics. Michael Brainard of UC San Francisco, for example, is studying songbirds to unravel how brains learn. Michael Dyer of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital will continue his revolutionary work on the pliancy of nerve cells. And other people not named Michael will surely do things as well.

Applicants must be currently working at one of the eligible research institutions (pdf of the list), hold a PhD or MD, and have between 5 and 15 years professional experience. To see the full set of requirements, hit the link for the full competition announcement.  

Check out more IP coverage of HHMI:

Grants for Brain Research

Grants for Science Research

Grants for Disease

What's the Key to Becoming a Howard Hughes Investigator?

Profile of Robert Tijan, President