Broad researchers receive HHMI honors
Four faculty members of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard are among 26 top biomedical researchers nationwide who will become Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigators this fall. Levi Garraway, Pardis Sabeti, Michael Laub, and Tobias Walther will receive long-term, flexible funding from HHMI, providing them the freedom to explore and follow their research ideas through to fruition.
“Levi, Pardis, Michael, and Tobias have all made remarkable achievements in their careers, and I am thrilled that HHMI is offering them this opportunity to further fulfill their extraordinary promise,” said Broad Institute Director and President Eric Lander. “Receiving this honor sets them on a path to even greater achievements. We are proud to be part of their transformative scientific work, which will benefit human health for generations.”
Garraway is an Institute Member of the Broad Institute and an associate professor of medicine at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and at Harvard Medical School. He also directs the Joint Center for Cancer Precision Medicine, a cooperative effort between the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Broad Institute to implement cutting-edge genomic and molecular approaches to oncology clinical trials. The overall aim of Garraway’s research is to develop systematic approaches to link genomic changes in tumors to novel avenues for targeted cancer treatments.
Sabeti is an Institute Member of the Broad Institute and an associate professor at the Center for Systems Biology and the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. A computational geneticist, Sabeti has expertise developing algorithms to detect genetic signatures of adaptation in humans and in the microbes that infect them. Her research interests include investigating microbial genomes, such as those of Lassa virus, Ebola virus, malaria, cholera, and tuberculosis, to help develop intervention strategies.
Laub is an Associate Member of the Broad Institute and an associate professor of biology at MIT. He is one of four current HHMI Early Career Scientists to be named to this new group of investigators. Laub’s research seeks to understand how cells process information, make decisions, and control their own behavior through the study of signal transduction and regulatory pathways in bacteria.
Walther is an Associate Member of the Broad Institute, a professor of genetics and complex diseases at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and a professor of cell biology at Harvard Medical School. His lab studies the mechanisms that regulate lipid metabolism, lipid storage, and lipid function in membranes or as signaling molecules.
“Scientific discovery requires original thinking and creativity,” said HHMI President Robert Tjian. “Every scientist selected has demonstrated these qualities. One of the most important things we can do at HHMI is to continue to support and encourage the best discovery research. We don’t know this for certain, but the ideas that emerge from these labs might one day change the world, and it’s our privilege to help make that happen.”
The new HHMI investigators were selected from a pool of nearly 900 tenured or tenure-track faculty at eligible U.S. institutions with five to 15 years of professional experience. HHMI will provide each investigator with support for basic biomedical research during the next five years, at which time appointments may be renewed. By making awards according to the principle of “people, not projects,” HHMI gives investigators the freedom to explore, to change direction if necessary, and to follow their ideas through to fruition over the course of many years.
The new investigators are expected to begin their appointments in September 2015.