HHMI, NIBIB/NIH to Invest Up to $35 Million in Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Programs|
Model Partnership Will Blend Biological, Physical Sciences & Engineering
As biomedical science becomes more interdisciplinary, research
progress will depend on contributions from life scientists who are
familiar with the tools and ideas of the physical and computational
sciences and engineering. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)
and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering
(NIBIB) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are joining forces
to provide both start-up funds and sustaining support for graduate
training programs that integrate the biomedical sciences with the
physical sciences and engineering
HHMI will award up to 10 three-year grants of as much as $1 million
each to support the development and early phases of the interdisciplinary
programs. NIBIB, a new NIH institute with broad, interdisciplinary
goals, will provide five additional years of support to the HHMI
grantees through peer-reviewed institutional training grants.
Building on work begun by the Whitaker Foundation, the National
Science Foundation, and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, HHMI and NIBIB
together have created a new model to support the initiation, development,
and maintenance of new graduate programs to provide upcoming biomedical
scientists with the cross-disciplinary knowledge and skills they
"This groundbreaking partnership between the NIBIB and HHMI
will produce researchers who are skilled in biomedical disciplines,
bioengineering, and quantitative sciences," said Elias A. Zerhouni,
In October 2004, HHMI will open a competition for up to 10 grants
to educational institutions, totaling as much as $1 million each.
The grants will be awarded in November 2005. All U.S. institutions
that grant Ph.D. degrees in the biological sciences will be eligible
for the three-year awards.
The HHMI-NIBIB partnership will capitalize on the different strengths
of each organization. “HHMI can provide flexible support to
catalyze the development of new, interdisciplinary programs,”
said Thomas R. Cech, president of HHMI. “The NIBIB will sustain
these young programs once they are developed, as NIH does so well
with traditional training grants.”
Roderic Pettigrew, NIBIB director, said, “NIBIB is excited
to enter into this historic alliance with HHMI to support training
of the biomedical scientist of the future, one skilled in interdisciplinary
research. These scientists will be better equipped to meet the complex
challenges of 21st century medicine.”
The new NIH Roadmap and recent reports from the National Academies
Convocation on Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research and the Association
of American Medical Colleges’ Graduate Research, Education
and Training Group emphasize the need for a new kind of graduate
education that will prepare scientists to work across disciplinary
lines to solve complex biomedical problems.
“We’re looking for training programs that provide strategies
to eliminate or lower barriers between seemingly disparate scientific
disciplines,” said Peter J. Bruns, HHMI vice president for
grants and special programs.
The new graduate training program parallels HHMI’s commitment
to bring together biologists, computer scientists, engineers, physicists,
chemists, and mathematicians to conduct collaborative research at
Janelia Farm, HHMI’s new research campus now under construction
in Loudoun County, Virginia.
HHMI is a medical research organization whose principal mission
is the conduct of biomedical research. The Institute employs more
than 300 HHMI investigators who conduct basic medical research in
HHMI laboratories at research centers and universities nationwide.
Through its complementary grants program, HHMI supports science
education in the United States and a select group of researchers
NIBIB is the newest NIH Institute. The mission of NIBIB is to improve
human health by leading the development and accelerating the application
of biomedical technologies. The NIBIB is committed to integrating
the engineering and physical sciences with the life sciences to
advance basic research and medical care.