Howard Hughes Medical Institute to fund high-risk medical fields

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), a United States non-profit medical research institute, plans to fund high-risk, high reward areas of study where there is little or no guarantee of success for achieving breakthroughs and significant advances.

One of the largest private funding organizations for biological and medical research in the United States will donate $600 million to 56 of the nation’s scientists working in microbiology, genetics, immunology, bioengineering, synthetic biology and the ecology of infectious disease.

The scientists, 42 men and 14 women, will join other 300 leading scientists across the nation, 124 of them are members of the National Academy of Sciences and 12 are Nobel Prize holders.

HHMI was founded by the aviator, engineer, and former trustee Howard Hughes in 1953. Currently it spends about $1 million per investigator per year, which amounts to annual investment in biomedical research of about $700 million. The endowments have made HHMI the second-wealthiest philanthropic organization in the United States (behind the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), and the second best endowed medical research foundation in the world (after the United Kingdom 's Wellcome Trust).