Howard Hughes Medical Institute Commits $1.5 Billion to Advance Diversity in Academic Science

In May, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) in Maryland announced plans to commit $1.5 billion to a 20-year program aimed at creating a more diverse workforce in the field of academic science.

As part of the DEI initiative, the Freeman Hrabowski Scholars Program aims to hire and support up to 150 faculty members who will add to the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the sciences, Insight Into Diversity reports.

The program is named after Freeman A. Hrabowski III, the outgoing president of the University of Maryland, who committed his career to advocate for more diverse scientists, engineers, and physicians.

Eligible research fields within the program include biomedical disciplines, bioengineering, biophysics, chemical biology, computational biology, evolutionary biology, and plant biology. The participating scholars will eventually become HHMI employees with full salaries and research budgets to be used towards scientific equipment, and leadership and mentorship development opportunities.

“For academic science to thrive in an increasingly diverse world, we need to attract and support scientists from a wide variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds,” HHMI President Erin O’Shea said.

“Early career faculty play a key role because they are the leaders of tomorrow. We’re excited to support talented early career scientists dedicated to a model of excellence in science that combines innovative scientific research and intentional, inclusive development of postdocs, students, and other lab members.”

Leslie Vosshall, HHMI chief scientific officer and vice president credits her organization for calling out the research funding gap for Black biomedical scientists ad the underrepresentation of scientists of color at universities and research institutions.

“Our goal is to help promising researchers build the future of science,” Vosshall said. “In keeping with HHMI’s ‘people, not projects’ ethos, we want scholars to follow their own scientific curiosity, ask innovative research questions, and go where the science takes them.”

The deadline for applications for the program is due September 28, 2022, with the scholars being selected in March 2023.