Public Release: 

HHMI taps two Long Island researchers as among the nation's most promising scientists

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) today announced the selection of 43 of the nation's most promising biomedical scientists as new HHMI investigators. Two of these scientists, Gregory Hannon and Scott Lowe, are researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island (photos available on request).

"We are committed to providing these scientists--and the nearly 300 scientists who are already part of HHMI--with the freedom and flexibility they need in order to make lasting contributions to mankind," said Thomas R. Cech, HHMI's president. "We want and expect them to be daring."

HHMI chose the 43 scientists through a nationwide competition that began in 2004 when the Institute asked approximately 200 universities, medical schools, and institutes to nominate candidates who demonstrated exceptional promise within 4 to 10 years of their becoming independent scientists. More than 300 individuals were nominated.

Dr. Lowe is Deputy Director of the CSHL Cancer Center and is a world leader in the field of cancer biology. His research is focused on understanding programmed cell death and cellular senescence, on elucidating how cancer cells thwart these protective processes, and on developing improved cancer therapies. (For more about Lowe's research, see the links provided below.)

Dr. Hannon is a pioneer in the field of RNA interference. His research program seeks to understand the biology of the process and to harness the power of RNA interference for finding novel approaches to treating human cancer. (For more about Hannon's research, see the links provided below.)

Bruce Stillman, president of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, said, "The appointment of Hannon and Lowe continues the tradition of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory scientists being selected as HHMI investigators. We are thrilled that the efforts of our researchers are being recognized in this way."

"These scientists are on the rapidly rising slope of their careers and have made surprising discoveries in a short period of time," said Cech. "We have every reason to believe that they will use their creativity to extend the boundaries of scientific knowledge for many years to come."

The 32 men and 11 women are drawn from 31 institutions nationwide, representing traditional biomedical research disciplines, as well as engineering, physics, chemistry, and computer science.

David A. Clayton, vice president and chief scientific officer of the Institute, said the new competition allows HHMI to respond to new areas of scientific interest and emerging fields.

"The scientists we identified through this competition are impossible to pigeonhole into traditional categories--and that is good news for HHMI and for the future of research in the life sciences," said Clayton.

Cech said the selection of the new investigators means that HHMI will invest more than $300 million in additional support for biomedical research over the next seven years. The Institute's current annual research budget is $416 million.

Through its flagship investigator program, HHMI currently employs 298 of the nation's most innovative scientists, who lead Hughes laboratories at 64 institutions. These scientists are widely recognized for their creativity and productivity: more than 100 are members of the National Academy of Sciences and 10 have been honored with the Nobel Prize. Pioneering work recognized by the Nobel has shed light on the organization of the olfactory system; the structure and function of cellular channels critical to the heart and other muscles; the identification of genes regulating organ development and programmed cell death; and processes fundamental to learning and memory.


About Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory is a private, non-profit basic research and educational institution. Under the leadership of Dr. Bruce Stillman--a pioneer in DNA replication research, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of the Royal Society (London)--more than 300 scientists at the Laboratory conduct groundbreaking research in cancer, neurobiology, plant molecular genetics, genomics, and bioinformatics. For more information about Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, visit and

About Scott Lowe, Ph.D. (Professor and Deputy Director, CSHL Cancer Center and HHMI investigator)

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About Gregory Hannon, Ph.D. (Professor, CSHL and HHMI investigator)

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About HHMI

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is dedicated to discovering and disseminating new knowledge in the basic life sciences. HHMI grounds its research programs on the conviction that scientists of exceptional talent and imagination will make fundamental contributions of lasting scientific value and benefit to mankind when given the resources, time, and freedom to pursue challenging questions. The Institute prizes intellectual daring and seeks to preserve the autonomy of its scientists as they pursue their research.

A nonprofit medical research organization, HHMI was established in 1953 by the eponymous aviator-industrialist. The Institute, headquartered in Chevy Chase, Maryland, is one of the largest philanthropies in the world with an endowment of $12.8 billion at the close of its 2004 fiscal year. HHMI spent $573 million in support of biomedical research and $80 million for support of a variety of science education and other grants programs in fiscal 2004.

Post-embargo information about is at

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