Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator Program

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) seeks to appoint approximately 20 to 30 new investigators who are among the most creative and promising in the nation. This competition will enable HHMI to strengthen its community of researchers and bring innovative approaches to the study of biological problems through biomedical disciplines and the adjacent fields of biophysics, chemical biology, biomedical engineering, and computational biology. Plant scientists, experimental evolutionary biologists, and patient-oriented researchers are welcome to apply to this general competition, which is open to 200 universities and research institutes.

HHMI investigators become HHMI employees who also maintain their faculty positions at their host institutions. HHMI pays salaries, fringes for the investigator and certain lab personnel, and various lab and equipment costs. HHMI also pays the institution for the investigator’s lab space. Awards are for five years and may be renewed, based on a rigorous review of accomplishments. Read more about the competition here

The deadline to establish eligibility is May 1, 2012. The deadline to submit all application materials is June 13, 2012. Eligibility and materials must be submitted on-line here. Per university policy, UR applicants must submit their applications five (5) business days in advance (June 7th) and provide Foundation Relations and ORPA a final copy for review ten (10) business days in advance (June 1st). Faculty who would like assistance with their applications or who have questions about deadlines and eligibility criteria, should contact Dr. Paul Spengler, Director of Foundation Relations, at 276-3955 or

Eligibility Requirements

  • Have a PhD and/or MD (or equivalent);
  • Hold a tenured or tenure track position as an Assistant Professor or higher academic rank at an eligible US institution (UR is eligible);
  • Have more than five (5) years but no more than 15 years of experience since appointment as an Assistant Professor or equivalent position. The applicant’s faculty position (Assistant Professor) must have started no earlier than June 1, 1997 and no later than June 30, 2007;
  • Be the Principal Investigator on one or more active, national peer-reviewed research awards of at least three (3) years duration, such as an NIH R01 grant, at the time of application deadline. Mentored awards, and career development and training grants do not qualify.

Important Conditions

  • HHMI investigators are required to devote at least 75% of their total effort to the direct conduct of biomedical research. Applicants with administrative responsibilities or other duties inconsistent with this time commitment may apply, but must reduce those other commitments to be appointed.
  • HHMI investigators may continue to apply for and accept other grant funding, provided that other grants do not approach 100% of the investigator’s time commitment.
  • Investigators may accept no-strings-attached gifts from companies, but HHMI policies restrict other corporate funding. Any proposed funding from companies must be reviewed by HHMI.
  • HHMI investigators receive their full salary and benefits from HHMI, as well as components of their research funding. Investigator budgets include a component for personnel (laboratory staff) and a component for operations (e.g., supplies, services, and minor equipment). In addition, HHMI investigators may submit requests for major equipment purchases as part of HHMI’s equipment purchasing program. Postdocs, technicians, and other laboratory staff can become HHMI employees within HHMI budgetary guidelines. HHMI does not provide indirect costs.

Components of the Application

The application will consist of:

  • A Curriculum Vitae, including a complete bibliography and a list of current research support;
  • A summary of the applicant’s major research achievements (not more than 250 words);
  • A summary of the applicant’s ongoing and planned research program (not more than 3,000 words; references and up to one page of figures are not counted toward the 3,000-word limit);
  • A statement of how an appointment as an HHMI investigator will enhance the applicant’s research program (not more than 250 words);
  • PDF files of five (5) selected publications that document the applicant’s most important scientific contributions (with a focus on the most recent five [5] years), as well as a paragraph describing the significance of each publication;
  • Reference letters. No reference letters are to be supplied with the initial application. Two references will be required from those selected as semi-finalists;

The competition website will provide additional information on the application format and file types to eligible applicants.

Selection Criteria

HHMI expects that successful applicants will be among the most creative in the nation. Each applicant will be evaluated with respect to their sustained significant research achievements and prospects for future original and innovative contributions. Applicants will be expected to show great promise as recognized or future leaders in biomedical research. This standing should be substantiated by multiple independent publications and other evidence of recognition, such as serving as an invited speaker at national meetings, as a reviewer for journal editorial boards, and as an advisor for grant funding panels.

HHMI investigators are expected to demonstrate a combination of the following attributes that distinguish them from other, highly competent scientists in their field:

  • They identify and pursue significant biological questions in a rigorous and deep manner;
  • They push their chosen research field into new areas of inquiry, being consistently at the forefront;
  • They develop new tools and methods that enable creative experimental approaches to biological questions, bringing to bear, when necessary, concepts or techniques from other disciplines;
  • They forge links between basic biology and medicine;
  • They demonstrate great promise of future original and innovative contributions.


NIH Funding Acknowledgement ** Important ** All publications resulting from the utilization of CTSI resources are required to credit the CTSI grant by including the NIH FUNDING ACKNOWLEDGEMENT and must comply with the NIH Public Access Policy.