$600M Windfall Aims to Boost Risky Research

Institute launches drive to encourage scientific breakthroughs
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2008 2:07 PM CDT
The money is intended to fund research deemed too risky for traditional grants.   (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – American medical research got a big boost today, courtesy of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The philanthropic body, one of the world’s largest, committed $600 million to fund the research of 56 scientists that it thinks can change the world. The institute hopes to back high-risk, high-reward research that normal grants wouldn’t touch, the Washington Post reports.

The 1,000-plus applicants for the institute's reconfigured investigators program fielded ambitious questions, like how climate change affects cholera, or whether airplane engineering can be applied to the human immune system. Said the fund’s president: “Our goal… is to lay the groundwork for medical discoveries that will take place 20, 30, 40 years from now.”