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New Philanthropic Program Focuses on Early Career Researchers

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Simons Foundation have announced a new program to support early career researchers in the biomedical sciences, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

According to the philanthropies, this Faculty Scholars Program will invest $148 million during its first five years and award about 70 grants every two-and-a-half years. These nonrenewable awards will include $100,000 to $400,000 per year in direct costs, with an extra 20 percent a year to cover administrative costs.

The program aims to "give people some optimism" when tight budgets at the US National Institutes of Health may be discouraging new investigators, Erin O'Shea, vice president and chief scientific officer at HHMI, tells the Chronicle.

However, the program will be limited to 220 eligible institutions that meet a certain minimum level of research activity.

Applicants must also have a PhD or MD, have tenure or be in a tenure-track position, be a PI or co-PI on an active nationally competitive grant, and have between four and 10 years of professional, post-training experience.

"There is no doubt the downward trend in research funding in the United States is hitting early career scientists very hard," says HHMI President Robert Tjian in a statement. "We need to identify, nurture and support our best scientific talent."