The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has named 19 new HHMI Investigators, including Synthetic Neurobiology head Ed Boyden and his colleague Feng Zhang, the James and Patricia Poitras Professor of Neuroscience at MIT.
HHMI will invest $200 million in this new cadre of investigators, a group of individuals known for pushing the boundaries of biomedical research. “We selected these scientists because they know how to ask hard and interesting questions with skill and intellectual courage,” says David Clapham, HHMI’s vice president and chief scientific officer. “We believe they have the potential to make breakthroughs over time.”
Each of the 19 new investigators will receive roughly $8 million over a seven-year term, which is renewable pending a scientific review. HHMI selected the new investigators, who represent 15 US institutions and join an investigator community of over 300 researchers, from a pool of 675 eligible applicants.
“Every scientist is unique, but they all need one thing: time,” says HHMI President Erin O’Shea. “HHMI is dedicated to providing outstanding biomedical scientists with the time and resources to do their best work. We think of this as investing in people, not just projects.”
The Media Lab is proud to play a role in supporting Boyden's research. Before he joined the Lab, Boyden told HHMI, “Many people didn’t believe in trying to take a physical science approach to inventing tools to explore the brain." His long-term goal, he says, "is to understand the brain with enough precision that we can simulate the computations that occur during decision-making or emotion. Maybe we could even define what a thought is, computationally.”