The fortune that once belonged to a man who ran from germs and disease is now helping to fight them. The not-for-profit Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) is one of the nation's largest private medical research organizations. Unlike most such organizations, HHMI directly employs the researchers it funds (through a multibillion-dollar endowment) and provides needed equipment and facilities. Its staff of some 330 "investigators," as the institute calls them, includes more than a dozen Nobel Prize winners. The organization concentrates primarily on such biomedical areas as cell biology, genetics, immunology, neuroscience, and structural biology. HHMI also supports science education through a grant program.
Based in Maryland, HHMI operates across the US.
The nation's largest private supporter of academic biomedical research, HHMI earns revenue from interest, dividends, and other income from investments; changes in unrealized gains of investments; and realized gain on investment sales, which supplies the institute with more than half of its revenue.
HHMI boasted $16.9 billion in diversified net assets in fiscal 2013, representing an increase of $1.1 billion from the end of 2012.
In 2012 HHMI spent $695 million for research and awarded about $78 million in grants for science education, down from $825 million for research and $80 million in grants, respectively, in 2011. Since 2004, HHMI has distributed more than $7 billion in research funds and grants for science education.
HHMI also operates Janelia Farm, its own research campus complete with meeting and social gathering spaces for various research groups. The facility serves as a complement to the existing programs in place at more than 70 schools and labs throughout the US where its investigators typically work.
Founded in 1953 by Howard Hughes, the institute was the major beneficiary of the sale of Hughes Aircraft to General Motors.