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Boston scientists earn Hughes Institute investigator status

It's well known that Massachusetts fights above its weight when it comes to science. It rakes in more biomedical research funding per capita from the National Institutes of Health than any other state. A recent paper by Northeastern University scientists analyzed citations in scientific papers and found that Boston is the leading city in the production and consumption of physics research worldwide.

On Thursday, more evidence of Boston's research strength arrived, as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a major funder of biomedical research, announced its new class of investigators — scientists whose salaries, benefits, and research budgets are fully covered for five years. Of the 27 new scientists who have won the coveted funding, a third are from Massachusetts — a greater concentration than any other region in the United States.


The Howard Hughes model for funding is slightly different from the traditional one that supports the majority of US biomedical research. Instead of funding researchers to carry out specific projects, Howard Hughes picks the individuals they think can make the most progress. The model is often referred to as "people, not projects."

The new investigators include: chemical biologist Adam Cohen and evolutionary biologist Hopi Hoekstra from Harvard University, systems biologist Vamsi Mootha of Massachusetts General Hospital, biologist Peter Reddien of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, computational biologist Aviv Regev of the Broad Institute, population geneticist David Reich, biochemist Johannes Walter and neurobiologist Rachel Wilson from Harvard Medical School, and neurobiologist Marc Freeman of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Carolyn Y. Johnson can be reached at cjohnson@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @carolynyjohnson.