The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Simons Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have announced the selection of eighty-four faculty scholars, early-career scientists at forty-three institutions who have great potential to make unique contributions to their field.
The first collaboration between the three grantmakers, the Faculty Scholars Program will award approximately $83 million over five years in support of the first cohort of scientists. Awards ranging from $600,000 to $1.8 million, including indirect costs, will enable researchers with between four and ten years of experience as faculty members to address significant global health challenges. Faculty Scholars are required to devote at least 50 percent of their total effort to the direct conduct of research.
The philanthropies joined forces to create the program in response to growing concern about the significant challenges that early-career scientists are facing. According to HHMI, the U.S. has witnessed a dramatic decline in the National Institutes of Health research award success rate for scientists in the last two decades, as well as a striking increase in the average age at which an investigator receives his or her first R01-equivalent grant. As a result of the constrained research funding environment, the creativity and energy that researchers bring to starting their own labs can quickly be sapped by the time-consuming and often frustrating quest for grant funding. Within a few years of a new faculty appointment, a researcher's institutional start-up funds typically come to an end and the pressure to secure federal grant money may lead to "safe" grant proposals.
"We are very excited to welcome these accomplished scientists into the HHMI community," said HHMI president Erin O'Shea. "We're equally gratified to work alongside our philanthropic partners to help these early-career scientists move science forward by pursuing their bold ideas."
For information on the first cohort of scholars, see the HHMI website.