The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation have jointly launched a new funding program that aims to help young scientists outside the G-7 countries establish independent careers. Announced on 29 March, the International Research Scholars Program plans to offer up to 50 grants of $650,000 each to early-career biomedical researchers around the world.
The 5-year grants, which consist of $250,000 for the first year and $100,000 for each of the next 4 years, may be used to cover salaries and stipends for trainees and staff members, laboratory supplies and equipment, and travel or publication costs. In addition to receiving funding, awardees will join the broader communities of scientists supported by the foundations. “They will participate annually in scientific meetings sponsored by the funders, regularly meeting with other members of the communities. Such interactions naturally build collaborations and also spread scientific values such as appreciation for peer review, independence of early career scientists, [and] pursuit of difficult subjects through collaboration,” writes HHMI Senior Scientific Officer Edwin W. McCleskey in an email to Science Careers.
To be eligible, applicants must conduct research that is biomedical in nature or that applies chemistry, physics, computer science, or engineering principles to biology and medicine. They may be based anywhere in the world, except in one of the countries belonging to the G-7 (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) or the territories currently sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, and the Crimea region of Ukraine). They must have published at least two papers in peer-reviewed, English-language journals as first or senior authors, trained in the United States or in the United Kingdom for at least 1 year, and gained postdoctoral experience. Additionally, they must be within the first 7 years of taking their first independent position within a research university, medical school, or nonprofit institution.
Above all, “HHMI and its partners are looking to fund people who are or have the potential to become scientific leaders,” McCleskey writes. The impact of past research and the prospects for future impact will be the two primary evaluation criteria, he continues. Similar to other HHMI programs, the details of the research project itself will be considered less important. “A successful application must explain the scientific passion of the applicant, the impact the applicant has had on their field, and the applicant's vision for the future of the field and how they will affect it.”
The program builds upon HHMI’s 2012 International Early Career Scientist awards, which supported 28 scientists in 12 different countries. With more funding partners now involved, not only should more scientists be supported, but more ground should also be covered. “All funding partners agree on th[e] primary criteria [for selection], but the partners may differ in their geographic and scientific areas of emphasis,” McCleskey writes. “We expect this will naturally increase the diversity of awardees compared to our previous program.”
The deadline for applications is 30 June 2016. Awardees will be notified in April 2017. To apply and find out more information, visit the application website.