The funds will be given to 56 scientists from more than 2 dozen universities and research institutions. HHMI is the largest private backer of biomedical research in the United States...
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute says the $600-million initiative will focus on high-risk, high-reward areas of study where there is little or no guarantee of success, but where breakthroughs could lead to significant advances in fields ranging from epidemiology to genetics.
The institute, based outside Washington, says it will fund research into vexing questions such as the effect of global climate change on the spread of infectious diseases, as well as unconventional ideas such as the correlation between computer engineering and the human immune system. As many as 70 researchers will be selected as HHMI Early Career Scientists through this competition, which will be completed in the spring of 2009.
HHMI chose the 56 scientists from among 1,070 applications submitted in a nationwide competition, which was announced in 2007. Researchers with 4 to 10 years of experience as faculty members at more than 200 institutions were eligible to apply. To evaluate the applications, HHMI assembled review panels of distinguished biomedical scientists.