New fellowship aims to enhance diversity in life sciences

by Noreen Balos, Funding Peer
Thursday, December 15, 2016 3:56 PM


The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) announced a new program to recruit and retain early-career scientists who are from gender, racial, ethnic, and other groups underrepresented in the life sciences, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the potential to become leaders in academic research.

The new program is named for Hanna H. Gray, former chair of the HHMI Trustees and former president of the University of Chicago. Under Gray’s leadership, HHMI developed initiatives that foster diversity in science education. Today, HHMI carries forward this work on college and university campuses across the U.S. The Hanna H. Gray Fellows Program seeks to encourage talented students and emerging scientists who are committed to continuing their training in the nation’s best laboratories.

The Hanna H. Gray Fellows grant competition is open to all eligible applicants, and no nomination is required. Grants in support of fellows will be awarded only to institutions within the U.S. In keeping with HHMI’s long-standing approach to support “people, not projects,” fellows will have flexibility to change research focus and follow their curiosity during the duration of the award.


Through an open competition, HHMI plans to select scientists early in their training to become Hanna H. Gray Fellows. Each fellow will receive funding for up to eight years, with mentoring and active involvement within the HHMI community. In this two-phase program, fellows will be supported from early postdoctoral training through several years of a tenure-track faculty position. In the first competition cycle, HHMI will select up to 15 fellows and invest a total of up to $25 million for their support over eight years.

During the postdoctoral training phase, fellows will receive support for salary ($60,000, initial year) and $20,000 in flexible funds, paid through a non-renewable grant to the training institution. This phase of the award has a maximum length of four years and a minimum length of two years. During the independent faculty phase, fellows will receive $250,000 per year in funding to be used for research support and $20,000 in flexible funds, paid through a non-renewable grant to the institution where they have attained a faculty position. This phase of the award has a maximum length of four years.

Fellows are required to devote at least 75 percent of their total effort to research during both the postdoctoral training and faculty phases of the award. To transition to the faculty phase of the program, fellows must obtain a faculty position in the tenure-track (or equivalent) at a U.S. institution with a doctoral-level graduate program in their field of interest.


  • The program is open to individuals who are from gender, racial, ethnic, and other groups underrepresented in the life sciences at the career stages targeted by this program, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • The program is open to applicants of any citizenship or nationality who have been accepted to join a laboratory as a postdoctoral researcher at a research institution located in the U.S. at the time of the application due date.
  • Applicants must have a Ph.D. and/or M.D. or equivalent awarded by the anticipated start of the grant term.
  • Applicants can have no more than 12 months of postdoctoral research experience at the time of the application due date.

Application Details

Applicants may obtain more information at Applications will be assessed by HHMI and distinguished scientists for scientific achievement in prior research experiences, attributes that demonstrate potential for a career as an independent scientist, and quality of training environment to be provided by the selected mentor. The final evaluation will include a scientific presentation to a panel of reviewers.

Application Deadline: February 15, 2017, at 3:00 p.m. (Eastern Time)

Selection Timeline

The selection of fellows will be made by the end of September 2017 and grants can start as early as November 15, 2017, but no later than January 15, 2018.