Newswise — The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) announced today that it seeks to appoint up to 25 new biomedical researchers through a national open competition. The initiative represents an investment of approximately $150 million in basic biomedical research over the next five years.

The HHMI investigator competition is open to basic researchers and physician scientists at more than 200 eligible institutions who study significant biological problems in all of the biomedical disciplines, including plant biology, as well as in adjacent fields such as evolutionary biology, biophysics, chemical biology, biomedical engineering, and computational biology. Those selected in this competition will receive a five-year appointment to HHMI, which is renewable pending favorable scientific review.

“The best discoveries in science aren’t predictable,” says HHMI President Robert Tjian. “One of the things that sets HHMI apart from other organizations that support biomedical research is that we free our researchers to follow their scientific instincts—to follow things that pop up unexpectedly.”

HHMI encourages its investigators to push their research fields into new areas of inquiry. By employing scientists as HHMI investigators—rather than awarding them research grants—the Institute is guided by the principle of “people, not projects.” HHMI investigators have the freedom to explore and, if necessary, to change direction in their research. Moreover, they have support to follow their ideas through to fruition—even if that process takes many years.

“The flexibility that comes with HHMI support allows people to move into new scientific areas more easily,” said Erin K. O’Shea, vice president and chief scientific officer. “I can’t emphasize enough how difficult that kind of movement can be with traditional sources of funding.”

Watch video message from Erin O'Shea here:

Candidates apply directly to HHMI. Applications must be received by June 3, 2014. Successful candidates are expected to meet the following criteria:

• Hold a PhD, and/or MD or equivalent degree.

• Hold a tenured or tenure-track position as Assistant Professor or higher academic rank (or the equivalent) at an eligible U.S. institution. Federal government employees are not eligible.

• Have more than 5 but no more than 15 years of post-training, professional experience.

• Be the principal investigator on one (or more) active, national, peer-reviewed research grants with a duration of at least three years.

Distinguished biomedical researchers will evaluate the applications from the candidates. All semifinalists will be expected to attend a scientific symposium at HHMI in April 2015 and present a brief research talk to HHMI scientific leadership and a final advisory panel. Finalists will be selected shortly after the scientific symposium.

HHMI announced its last open competition in 2012. That competition resulted in the selection of 27 of the nation’s top biomedical scientists as HHMI investigators in 2013. Once selected, HHMI provides each investigator with his or her full salary, benefits, and a research budget over their initial five-year appointment. The Institute will also cover other expenses, including the purchase of critical equipment.

Through the HHMI Investigator Program, the Institute has joined with more than 70 distinguished U.S. universities, hospitals, institutes, and medical schools to create an environment that provides flexible, long-term support for more than 300 Hughes scientists and members of their research teams. HHMI investigators are widely recognized for their creativity and research accomplishments: 172 HHMI investigators are members of the National Academy of Sciences and there are currently 17 Nobel laureates who are HHMI investigators.

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute plays an influential role in advancing scientific research and education in the United States. Its scientists, located across the United States, have made important discoveries that advance our fundamental understanding of biology and its relation to human disease. In a complementary program at HHMI's Janelia Farm Research Campus in Loudoun County, Virginia, leading scientists are pursuing long-term, high-risk, high-reward research in a campus designed to bring together researchers from disparate disciplines. The Institute also aims to transform science education into a creative, interdisciplinary endeavor that reflects the excitement of real research. For more information, visit

The Institute’s endowment at the close of fiscal 2013 was about $16.9 billion. HHMI’s headquarters are located in Chevy Chase, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C.