Howard Hughes Medical Institute: Grants for Brain Research and Treatment

OVERVIEW: HHMI does not prioritize any specific diseases, but supports promising researchers with long-term appointments to pursue their research interests.

IP TAKE: HHMI does not have a traditional grantmaking structure. The majority of its awards are long-term, renewable, five- to seven-year appointments, giving researchers a high degree of flexibility in pursuing their research.

PROFILE:  The Howard Hughes Medical Institute was founded in 1953 by the notorious aviator and industrialist Howard Hughes, with a broad mission aimed at the “promotion of human knowledge within the field of the basic sciences (principally the field of medical research and medical education) and the effective application thereof for the benefit of mankind.” HHMI’s philosophy of “people, not projects” means that it prefers to provide its researchers with “long-term, flexible funding that gives them the freedom to explore and, if necessary, change direction.” The institute’s grants are only available to HHMI investigators, a group that includes more than 300 members nationwide. Its two main grantmaking areas are Biomedical Research and Science Education.

HHMI’s Biomedical Research program consists of several awards.

  • HHMI Investigator Program – This is a renewable, seven-year appointment at HHMI. Awardees will be considered salaried employees and provided “generous financial support for research as well as access to capital equipment funds.”

  • Hanna H. Grey Fellows Program - This program funds postdoctoral scholars in the life sciences from underrepresented communities. Fellows receive $80,000 per year for up to four years.

  • Janelia Group Leaders – These awardees will lead research teams directed at a “small number of scientific questions with potential for transformative impact” at HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus in Ashburn, Virgina.

  • Faculty Scholars Program – This is a five-year award of $100-$400,000 per year for early-career scientists with a “strong potential to make groundbreaking contributions to the life sciences.”

HHMI is not fully transparent about its grant amounts, but it generally awards substantial, long-term, renewable grants of $80,000 to $400,000. Grantseekers may review the institute’s list of affiliated scientists for a better idea of what kind of research it supports.

HHMI may sometimes announce Open Competitions, but does not otherwise accept unsolicited proposals or requests for funding.

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