Five Seattle researchers -- three from the University of Washington and two from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center -- have been selected as Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators. This is the first time there have been so many winners in the Seattle area. This also represents one of the highest concentrations of winners in the nation.
Drs. David Baker, Philip Green and Michael Shadlen from UW and Drs. Leonid Kruglyak and Cecilia Moens from the Hutchinson Center are among 48 scientists chosen earlier this week for this prestigious appointment. They were selected from a pool of 430 candidates nominated by more than 200 U.S. institutions. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, or HHMI, based in Chevy Chase, Md., is a medical research organization that enters into long-term research collaborations with more than 70 medical schools, universities and research institutes nationwide, where its investigators hold faculty appointments.
HHMI investigators and their teams carry out research with considerable freedom and flexibility, as the Institute emphasizes "people, not projects," which differs from the traditional grant-based approach to research funding used elsewhere. HHMI spends between $500,000 and $1 million annually for each of its new investigators, including support to the host institutions for graduate training, library resources and other needs.
New HHMI investigators from the University of Washington:
David Baker, Ph.D., a biochemist, is a leader in efforts to predict the three-dimensional structures of proteins from their amino acid sequences. This is an important step in understanding the functions and interrelationships of the more than 100,000 proteins encoded in the human genome. An understanding of "protein folding" may help find therapies for disease. Baker is an associate professor of biochemistry and an adjunct professor of bioengineering. He came to UW in 1993 from the University of California, San Francisco.