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HHMI Awards 20 Physician-Scientist Grants

Last week, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) announced its latest Physician-Scientist Early Career Awards. HHMI
selected the 20 award winners with the goal of creating a core group of
scientists who can bridge the gap between the research lab and clinical
practice.

As a new Science Careers feature on translational research points out,
filling the gap between the lab bench and the bedside is not for the faint of
heart. In an article from that feature, "Carving a Career in Translational Research",
Anthony Hayward, clinical research director for NIH’s National Center for
Research Resources says, "It’s a tremendous leap of faith for young
investigators to commit themselves to translational research. It takes a special
sort of person; you have to be willing to take risks."

HHMI recognizes the risks
and works to mitigate them. The Physician-Scientist Early Career Awards provide
$375,000 to each winner to cover research expenses over a 5-year period, and
selects participants from alumni of two of its other activities, the HHMI-NIH
Research Scholars Program and the Research Training Fellowships for Medical
Students. The early-career awards support the researchers after they have
completed their mentored training and while they are establishing–and securing
funding for–their own labs. The institutions that employ the awardees must allow them to devote at
least 70% of their time to research.

The first round of winners was announced last year, but
this year HHMI increased the length of the award term from 3 to 5 years and the
amount from $50,000 to $75,000 per year. HHMI plans to announce its 2008 competition in September.