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The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has announced a nearly $1.3 billion program for early-career scientists in an effort to increase diversity in the scientific workforce.

“For academic science to thrive in an increasingly diverse world, we need to attract and support scientists from a wide variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds,” says HHMI president Erin O’Shea in the institute’s announcement. “Early career faculty play a key role because they are the leaders of tomorrow.”

See “HHMI Kickstarts $2 Billion Initiative to Boost Diversity in STEM

The new program, called the Freeman Hrabowski Scholars Program, is named in honor of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s outgoing president, Freeman A. Hrabowski III, who has worked to increase the number of scientists, engineers, and physicians from marginalized backgrounds, according to the institute’s announcement.

HHMI’s aim for the new program, it says, is to bolster future leaders’ scientific research as they build labs with more equitable and inclusive working environments.

The program is accepting applications through September 28, 2022 from biomedical researchers who will work to advance diversity, but the HHMI hasn’t yet specified what criteria it’s looking for. The program will appoint 30 scholars every other year for the next decade, and each beneficiary will receive up to $8.6 million over 10 years. The funds will support salary, benefits, research, and equipment over an initial five-year term that may be renewed once.

Scholars will maintain their positions at their current institutions, but will also become HHMI employees, according to the HHMI announcement. As part of the program, scholars will also receive professional development and mentorship training.

“Our goal is to help promising researchers build the future of science,” Leslie Vosshall, an HHMI vice president and its chief scientific officer, says in the institute’s announcement. “In keeping with HHMI’s ‘people, not projects’ ethos, we want Scholars to follow their own scientific curiosity, ask innovative research questions, and go where the science takes them.”

Correction (May 26): The original version of this article described the new initiative as a scholarship program, which was inaccurate. The Scientist regrets the error.