The late James H. Gilliam Jr., a charter Trustee of Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), spent a lifetime fostering diversity and opportunity in education and science. Created this year by HHMI to honor Gilliam's legacy, the fellowships provide support for Ph.D. studies in the life sciences to students including underrepresented minorities who participated in HHMI's Exceptional Research Opportunities (EXROP) undergraduate summer research program.
For the past two summers, EXROP has placed a group of outstanding minority and disadvantaged undergraduates in labs of HHMI investigators and professors. Their research projects ranged from identification of the cells in which lung cancer originates to investigation of the mechanism by which the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) establishes and sustains latent infection in cells. This year's six Gilliam Fellows were selected from a pool of 84 EXROP students who were eligible to apply.
Imran Babar, a Native American/Asian earned a degree in biology at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. He did his EXROP research with HHMI investigator Tyler Jacks at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, working to discover the role of stem cells in lung tumor formation. He will carry out graduate study in molecular, cellular and developmental biology at Yale.
Meisha Bynoe was born and raised in the West Indies and earned a bachelor's degree in biology and music at MIT. She conducted research in the lab of HHMI investigator Richard Locksley at the University of California, San Francisco, where she helped develop assays to identify certain macrophages or immune system cells. She will enter Yale's graduate program in microbiology this fall.