HHMI selects four Broad researchers for prestigious honor

Haley Bridger, May 9th, 2013
  • From left to right: Vamsi Mootha, Peter Reddien, Aviv Regev, and David
    Reich. Headshots by Aynsley Floyd/AP, ©HHMI

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) announced today that four scientists from the Broad Institute are among the 27 “top biomedical researchers” in the nation who will become HHMI investigators this fall. Selected for their scientific excellence, all of the investigators will receive flexible, financial support over the next five years so that they may move their research forward in creative and new directions. The Broad Institute’s Aviv Regev, Vamsi Mootha, Peter Reddien, and David Reich are among the new group of HHMI investigators.

“HHMI has extremely good taste. Aviv, Vamsi, David, and Peter are not only extraordinary scientists — they are each visionaries in their fields,” said Broad Institute Director and President Eric Lander.

The new group of investigators includes 10 current HHMI Early Career Scientists, including Regev, a Broad Institute core faculty member. Regev is also an associate professor of biology at MIT and directs the Klarman Cell Observatory at the Broad Institute. Her research centers on understanding how complex molecular networks function and evolve in the face of genetic and environmental changes, over time-scales ranging from minutes to millions of years.

Mootha is a senior associate member of the Broad Institute and co-director of the institute’s Metabolism Program. In addition to his roles at the Broad, Mootha is a professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School and a professor of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. Mootha’s research is primarily focused on the mitochondrion, the “powerhouse of the cell,” and its role in human disease. Mootha’s group has characterized the mitochondrial proteome, and has used this inventory to investigate the physiology of the organelle, and its role in rare but devastating inherited metabolic disorders.

Reddien, an associate member of the Broad, is also a current HHMI Early Career Scientist. In addition, he is an associate professor of biology at MIT and an associate department head, as well as a member of the Whitehead Institute. Reddien’s work centers on the planarian, a tiny flatworm with astounding regenerative abilities. Reddien’s lab seeks to identify and understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms that control these remarkable feats of regeneration.

Reich is a Broad Institute senior associate member and a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School. Reich’s lab studies the impact of human evolutionary history on biology and disease, pursuing questions related to the history and geography of human disease and ancient population mixture events. Reich hopes to apply his lab’s discoveries not only to learn about history, but also to identify risk factors for various diseases in different populations.

“This is a very talented group of scientists. And while we cannot predict where their research will take them, we’re eager to help them move science forward,” HHMI president Robert Tjian said in a press statement.

The new group of HHMI investigators was selected from among a group of 1,155 applicants with five to 15 years of experience as faculty members. HHMI – guided by the principle “people, not projects” – will provide each investigator with support for basic biomedical research over the next five years, at which time appointments may be renewed.

The new investigators will begin their appointments in September 2013.