The Simons Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are pleased to announce the Faculty Scholars Competition, a national competition for grants to outstanding early-career scientists. The competition aims to support basic researchers and physician scientists who bring innovative approaches to the study of biological problems.
The faculty scholar grants will provide research support to a significant number of excellent scientists at a time in their careers when funding is difficult to obtain. Talented early-career researchers are often discouraged from pursuing academic research careers by the challenging funding climate in the U.S., which forces them to spend a large portion of their time seeking funding rather than doing science. And pressure to secure funding through federal grant money may lead to ‘safer’ grant proposals rather than to creative and potentially transformative project ideas.
The awards are intended for researchers who have already demonstrated significant research accomplishments and show potential to make unique and important contributions to their fields. It is hoped that the grants will encourage these scientists to pursue research careers and will enable more innovative science.
The three philanthropies will award a total of $148 million over the program’s first five years, awarding up to 70 grants every two and a half to three years. Awardees will receive a five-year, non-renewable grant ranging from $100,000 to $400,000 per year for direct research costs. Additionally, grantees’ institutions will receive 20 percent of the yearly grant for indirect costs.
The competition is open to basic researchers and physician scientists at more than 220 eligible U.S. institutions. Applicants must be using molecular, genetic, computational or theoretical approaches to address fundamental biological or biomedical problems. Applicants must have more than four but fewer than 10 years of post-training professional experience. Once selected, awardees are required to devote at least 50 percent of their effort to research.
The Faculty Scholars Competition marks the first time that HHMI, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Simons Foundation have formally undertaken an initiative together. The philanthropies hope that other organizations will join this effort going forward.
“The Simons Foundation is pleased to be a partner in this important effort to support talented early-career scientists,” says Marian Carlson, director of Life Sciences at the Simons Foundation.