News Release

HHMI invests $300 million in 33 new investigators

Grant and Award Announcement

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

2021 HHMI Investigators

image: The scientists come from 21 US institutions and will join a community of Investigators who are tackling some of the most challenging problems in biomedical research. view more 

Credit: Howard Hughes Medical Institute

The 2021 Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigators are diving deep into tough questions that span the landscape of biology and medicine. And the new cohort of 33 scientists that HHMI announced today represents outstanding science from across the United States. 

In North Carolina, a psychiatrist is examining the role of brain electricity in mental health disorders. An Arizona scientist is probing how bacteria can become permanent fixtures inside host cells. And a California biologist is on a mission to heal diseased hearts. 

These scientists and their fellow 2021 Investigators could radically change how we think about biology, human health, and disease. HHMI will invest at least $300 million in these new Investigators, who come from 21 US institutions and will join HHMI’s Investigator community, which currently includes approximately 250 scientists. 

“HHMI is committed to giving outstanding biomedical scientists the time, resources, and freedom they need to explore uncharted scientific territory,” says HHMI President Erin O’Shea. By employing scientists as HHMI Investigators, rather than awarding them research grants, she says, the Institute is guided by the principle of “people, not projects.” 

HHMI selected the new Investigators because they’re thoughtful, rigorous scientists who have the potential to make transformative discoveries over time, says David Clapham, HHMI’s vice president and chief scientific officer. “We encourage Investigators to follow new directions, learn new methods, and think in new ways,” he says. “This could lead to scientific breakthroughs that benefit humanity.” 

Each new Investigator will receive roughly $9 million over a seven-year term, which is renewable pending a successful scientific review. HHMI selected the new Investigators from more than 800 eligible applicants.

To date, 32 current or former HHMI scientists have won the Nobel Prize – most recently, Jennifer Doudna in 2020 for the development of a method for genome editing. Investigators have made significant contributions across many research areas, including HIV vaccine development, microbiome and circadian rhythm research, immunotherapy, SARS-CoV-2 biology, and potential therapies and vaccines for COVID-19, among other fields. 


HHMI is the largest private biomedical research institution in the nation. Our scientists make discoveries that advance human health and our fundamental understanding of biology. We also invest in transforming science education into a creative, inclusive endeavor that reflects the excitement of research. HHMI’s headquarters are located in Chevy Chase, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC.


2021 HHMI Investigators

Emily Balskus, PhD, Harvard University

Gregory Barton, PhD, University of California, Berkeley

Diana Bautista, PhD, University of California, Berkeley

Trevor Bedford, PhD, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Flaminia Catteruccia, PhD, Harvard University

Xin Chen, PhD, Johns Hopkins University

Rhiju Das, PhD, Stanford University

Kafui Dzirasa, MD, PhD, Duke University

Nels Elde, PhD, University of Utah

Cagla Eroglu, PhD, Duke University

Cassandra Extavour, PhD, Harvard University

Chenghua Gu, PhD, Harvard University

Sun Hur, PhD, Boston Children’s Hospital

Martin Jonikas, PhD, Princeton University

Cigall Kadoch, PhD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute 

Shingo Kajimura, PhD, ScD, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center 

Daniel Kronauer, PhD, The Rockefeller University

Frederick Matsen IV, PhD, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

Ian Maze, PhD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

John McCutcheon, PhD, Arizona State University

Michelle Monje, MD, PhD, Stanford University

Daniel Mucida, PhD, The Rockefeller University

Dana Pe’er, PhD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Kristy Red-Horse, PhD, Stanford University

Vanessa Ruta, PhD, The Rockefeller University

David Savage, PhD, University of California, Berkeley

Mikhail Shapiro, PhD, California Institute of Technology

Vincent Tagliabracci, PhD, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center 

Benjamin Tu, PhD, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Kay Tye, PhD, Salk Institute for Biological Studies

David Veesler, PhD, University of Washington

Elizabeth Villa, PhD, University of California, San Diego

Jochen Zimmer, PhD, University of Virginia

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