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Howard Hughes Medical Institute awards undergraduate biosciences grant to Stanford

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has awarded Stanford a four-year, $2 million grant to enhance undergraduate education in biology.

Stanford is one of 44 research universities that will receive HHMI funding for undergraduate science this year. The grants total $80 million and range from $1.2 million to $2.2 million each.

Stanford won similar HHMI awards of $1 million in 1989, $1.8 million in 1994 and $2 million in 1998, noted H. Craig Heller, professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences.

"These awards have had a tremendous impact on our ability to offer high quality academic programs and research experiences for our undergraduates," Heller said, noting that a major use of HHMI funds has been to create a competitive grants program for undergraduate research.

"Students write proposals that are reviewed by faculty," he added, "and awards enable students to concentrate on research projects over the summer months. In addition, HHMI grants have provided new equipment for laboratory courses, have enabled the development of innovative Web-based curricular materials and have supported publication of the undergraduate research journal, The Stanford Biologist.

Heller also noted that some of the funds have been used to support a number of outreach programs designed to attract students from underserved minority communities into science.

"Biology is progressing so rapidly and interfacing with so many other disciplines that undergraduate teaching runs the risk of substituting quantity for quality," said HHMI President Thomas R. Cech. "Through these grants, the institute is providing resources to help universities bring their undergraduate science teaching up to the level of their research programs."

HHMI is a Maryland-based medical research organization whose principal mission is biomedical research. Since 1988, the institute has awarded $556 million to 236 colleges and universities in 47 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.


By Mark Shwartz

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