Whitehead Member Peter Reddien named an HHMI Investigator

Whitehead Member and new Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator

Whitehead Member and new Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

Image: Kathleen Dooher/Whitehead Institute

May 9, 2013

Tags: Reddien LabAwards + Announcements

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) announced today that Whitehead Member Peter Reddien is among 27 biomedical researchers nationwide to be appointed as HHMI investigators.

The new HHMI investigators were identified in a rigorous selection process that winnowed an original field of nearly 1,200 applicants to approximately 60 semifinalists asked to give brief scientific presentations last month at an HHMI research campus in Virginia. Chosen for their individual scientific excellence, Reddien and the 26 other new investigators will each receive five years of research support intended to fuel creativity and audacity in the lab.

"HHMI is a spectacular organization, and to be selected as an HHMI investigator is a great honor,” says Reddien, who in 2009 was one of 50 young researchers named to HHMI’s first-ever class of Early Career Scientists. Only 10 of that group of 50 are now receiving appointments as HHMI investigators. With this new support from HHMI, Reddien will continue to explore the molecular mechanisms of regeneration using the planarian flatworm as a model.

“This position will enable my lab to pursue our most ambitious ideas and to be bold in the paths we take,” adds Reddien, who is also a professor of biology at MIT. “I am ecstatic about the opportunity."

Notably, Reddien becomes the fifth HHMI investigator at Whitehead Institute, joining Whitehead Members David Bartel, Susan Lindquist, David Sabatini, and Whitehead Director David Page.

“We’re delighted but certainly not surprised that Peter has been honored in this way,” says Page, who gained an appreciation of Reddien’s vast scientific potential while recruiting him to Whitehead Institute and MIT in 2005. “We knew what we were getting then, and now HHMI has twice recognized Peter’s talents. He really couldn’t be more deserving.”

In making today’s announcement, HHMI President Robert Tijan stated: “HHMI has a very simple mission. We find the best original-thinking scientists and give them the resources to follow their instincts in discovering basic biological processes that may one day lead to better medical outcomes. This is a very talented group of scientists. And while we cannot predict where their research will take them, we’re eager to help them move science forward.”

According to HHMI, the commitment to its 27 new investigators represents a total investment in basic biomedical research of approximately $150 million over the next five years. HHMI currently supports approximately 330 investigators throughout the country. Each investigator appointment is renewable contingent upon successful scientific review.

“When it comes to research, HHMI takes the long view,” notes Jack E. Dixon, HHMI Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer. “You have to have that in basic research because you have no way of knowing if someone’s research is going to be transformative 15-20 years down the line. We pick the best people we can find and then provide long-term, stable support so they can act quickly on their best research ideas.”

Whitehead Institute is a world-renowned non-profit research institution dedicated to improving human health through basic biomedical research.
Wholly independent in its governance, finances, and research programs, Whitehead shares a close affiliation with Massachusetts Institute of Technology
through its faculty, who hold joint MIT appointments.

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