“I think about the tremendous scientific freedom that I had as a Fellow. I was able to pursue research within a scientifically amazing community. It was exhilarating.”
Peter S. Kim, President of Merck Research Labs. Former Whitehead Fellow
At the heart of Whitehead Institute’s educational mission is the Whitehead Fellows Program—an initiative that has helped cultivate an extraordinary cadre of scientific leaders.
The program emerged from the notion that nurturing young scientists during their most creative years will yield a new generation of leaders more rapidly than traditional programs. Fellows are given the space, resources and support needed to run their own labs and pursue an independent research agenda. However, unlike traditional faculty positions, the Fellows do not have teaching responsibilities. Fellows are appointed for a three-year term with the expectation that it will be extended to five years.
“The Fellows Program was critically important to my development as an independent scientist,” says Bruce Tidor, now a Professor of Bioengineering and Computer Science at MIT. “It gave me the freedom to pursue my own research directions unfettered by the usual academic responsibilities of a faculty member, while surrounding me with all of the wonderful science, stimulating ideas, and outstanding role models that have always been the hallmark of Whitehead Institute.”
This kind of support and freedom enables the Fellows to use their time at the Institute to concentrate solely on building a strong research program. In addition, Fellows have the unique opportunity to establish and maintain an independent laboratory, something that many researchers don’t experience until later in their careers.
Candidates for a Whitehead fellowship must be nominated by their faculty advisor or mentor.