Whitehead Fellows Program

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 Fellows program provides talented scientists a rare opportunity: the chance to set up research programs of their own as an alternative to traditional post-doctoral positions. Recent Ph.D. and M.D. graduates with proven excellence in research are given the necessary resources to work as principal investigators, free from financial constraints and distraction by formal teaching responsibilities. As their research program matures, Fellows are able to attract funding from federal grants or other sources.

About the Program
What is the Whitehead Fellows Program?

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 Whitehead Fellows Program is co-directed by Institute Members Yukiko Yamashita and Dave Bartel. Please send any inquiries regarding the program to fellowsprogram@wi.mit.edu.

Goals of the Program

The Fellows program is an integral part of Whitehead Institute’s mission and emerged from the notion that nurturing scientists during their most creative years will yield a new generation of leaders more rapidly than traditional programs. Fellows sometimes have training outside the traditional areas of biological research, which fosters interdisciplinary and innovative research. Fellows take advantage of the Institute’s state-of-the-art research facilities, as well as the collegial and supportive environment of Whitehead Institute and the neighboring Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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.

How to Apply

Applicants should submit a CV and a 400-word statement that summarizes both their previous research and their vision for the research they plan to conduct as a Fellow. In addition, they should arrange to have three references each submit a letter of support through the application portal. Applications open twice yearly, once in November with a deadline of January 1, and again in June with a deadline of August 1. Click here to apply. The Institute is especially seeking applications from candidates from historically underrepresented communities. For more information on the application process, email fellowsprogram@wi.mit.edu.

Supporting the Program

An initiative of this nature requires significant donor funding -- not only to support start-up and maintenance of the Fellows’ core research activities, but also to underwrite their expanding investigations. These highly motivated scientists quickly build robust research programs, and few traditional funding organizations support young scientists doing innovative, high-risk/high-reward science.
We invite philanthropists to join in supporting these emerging scientific leaders. 
Donors can also ensure the Whitehead Fellows Program’s overall, long-term vitality by endowing it. Such gifts make clear a donor’s desire to recognize and nurture excellence.
For more information on ways to support the Program, please go to https://wi.mit.edu/our-priorities/whitehead-fellows-program.

Former Whitehead Fellows are excelling in research, education, and industry.

Current Fellows
A man in a suit leans on a desk

The Weiskopf lab studies how immune cells can be used to fight cancer in the body.

Tobi Oni in a black turtleneck sits in an office.

The Oni Lab seeks new methods of understanding, detecting, and potentially treating pancreatic cancer.

Lindsey Backman

The Backman Lab studies the structure and biochemistry of proteins in anaerobic bacteria that are abundant in the human microbiome.

Recent Fellows
Olivia Corradin stands in her lab.

Corradin is now a Member of Whitehead Institute and Assistant Professor of Biology at MIT

A woman in a pink shirt talks to a group of people in a lab.

The Rouskin lab has recently moved to Harvard, where Silvi Rouskin has accepted a faculty position at the Department of Microbiology of Harvard Medical School.

A woman sits at a lab bench wearing a white coat.

The Knouse lab has recently moved to the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, and Knouse is now an Assistant Professor of Biology in the MIT Department of Biology.