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HHMI: Howard Hughes Medical Institute - International Student Research Fellowships Details

At a Glance

by Nomination
Doctoral Students
Application Period: 
Autumn Quarter, varies by school
Number Awarded: 
10 finalists forwarded to HHMI
3 Years
Amount Awarded: 
stipend plus partial tuition support


2016 HHMI program announcement [ pdf ]

The HHMI International Student Research Fellowships webpage

Stanford University has been invited to nominate 10 international doctoral students for HHMI International Student Research Fellowships. HHMI introduced this program in 2009 and they expect to make a total of approximately 50 awards; each will consist of three years of stipend support, plus partial tuition support. In 2015, three of Stanford's finalists were awarded this fellowship (see Announcement of 2015 Recipients).


Students who are being nominated for these awards must:

  • have demonstrated exceptional talent and innovation in research
  • be in the second (or third) year of doctoral study and enrolled full-time in a program in the biomedical or related sciences, including physical and mathematical sciences
  • have entered a laboratory in which they will conduct their dissertation research, and
  • are not U.S. citizens, noncitizen nationals, or permanent residents of the United States.


HHMI will award three-year fellowships. For the 2016-17 year, the HHMI annual stipend is $30,000, plus an allowance of $3,000 which may be used for insurance and health costs, books, supplies, and related support. HHMI also provides an annual institutional allowance of $10,000 in partial payment of tuition and fees. Support for years two and three is contingent on appropriate research and academic progress, and support will not be provided beyond the fifth year of a student’s doctoral program.

The HHMI stipend is defined as support for 12 months each year, and HHMI requires that their fellows work full-time on research throughout the year. However, HHMI does not require full-time enrollment in summer quarter. HHMI fellows at Stanford must be enrolled for all four quarters while receiving the HHMI fellowship, but, where appropriate, they may reduce their summer quarter units. See further discussion, below, regarding tuition shortfalls and additional financial support.


HHMI will permit host institutions to supplement the Fellow’s stipend. However, fellows are generally not allowed to be employed. (HHMI will permit an assistantship of up to 25%, consistent with Stanford's policies regarding supplementing full fellowships.) HHMI Fellows may not receive significant funds from any external fellowship, scholarship, or similar program. Schools should not, therefore, nominate individuals who hold continuing Fulbright fellowships or other significant external awards.

As with some other national fellowships, this award will not fund the full cost of Stanford tuition. Programs submitting nominations for this award must understand and agree that the fellow will not be charged for the tuition and fees shortfall.

In order to nominate a Stanford student for this fellowship, the student’s faculty advisor must agree to provide funding for the tuition and fees shortfall, and this must be included in the nomination materials the school forwards to the VPGE office. If the student will be funded on a supplemental assistantship (up to 25% FTE), those funds can only be used to provide salary and a tuition allowance - the student cannot be required to use that money to pay other university fees. If additional support is needed, the faculty member will have to either pay the balance from his or her own unrestricted resources, or to identify those resources from within the department or school. With the exception of the Cardinal Care subsidy and support for SGF Fellows (below), no central university funds will be provided to support HHMI fellows.

The HHMI fellowship may be combined with a Stanford Graduate Fellowship (SGF) provided the fellow is already budgeted for 4 quarters of support for the first year of the HHMI fellowship. For those Fellows, the SGF will supplement both stipend and tuition to the level of the SGF or provide full SGF support through Summer Quarter of the fifth year of graduate studies.


Nominations are being solicited from the following schools:

The submission instructions vary for each school, please be sure to follow the instructions for the submission school. Instructions can be found via the links above.

Each of those schools will canvas their graduate programs, and may select a limited number of candidates for consideration for this fellowship. Recognizing the interdisciplinary nature of many of our students' programs, we will use the following nomination ground rules:

  1. In cross-school research situations, where the advisor's faculty appointments and/or the student's doctoral program involve more than one school, the advisor may choose which dean's office should review the student's nomination. Each school has distinct deadlines and procedures, and the advisor should follow the procedures for the dean's office to which s/he is submitting the nomination for review. Each student may be nominated to only one School.
  2. Bioengineering is considered part of both the Medical School and the School of Engineering. Faculty have the option of submitting a Bioengineering nomination to either school.


Each school will need to submit the following information in a single PDF file for each of their nominees. Each page should have the full student name and "HHMI" listed on the top or bottom of the pages. The nomination must be submitted to VPGE by no later than Friday, November 6, 2015.

  1. A two-page summary of the student’s dissertation research activity, emphasizing the significance and innovation of the intended research.
  2. A list of publications and presentations with the student's role in the publication described.
  3. The student's curriculum vitae (CV).
  4. A letter of recommendation from the dissertation advisor, printed on your department's letterhead giving evidence of the candidate’s exceptional talent as a scientific leader and innovator.
  5. A one-page letter from the student's advisor, which will be forwarded to HHMI for the 10 selected nominees, containing:
    1. a brief description of why the student was nominated for the HHMI International Student Fellowship program specifically addressing the student's potential to be a scientific leader and innovator
    2. a commitment to supplement the tuition shortfall for the duration of the fellow's PhD program. Detail the source of funds (institution, department, thesis advisor, or other source) that will be committed to supplementing the HHMI fellowship funds for tuition.
  6. A personal statement reflecting career goals in relation to the applicant’s thesis work and how the fellowship will affect attainment of the goals.
  7. The student's unofficial Stanford graduate transcript.


Students may not nominate themselves. The online application is for the use of faculty and administrative staff only. Please use the links below to submit nominations.

A faculty review group will identify a final list of 10 nominations to forward to HHMI by November 17. In making the final selection, Stanford will consider the competitiveness of each application, and will follow the HHMI recommendation to submit a diverse set of nominees in terms of gender, country of citizenship, research area, and departmental/program affiliation and that there will be no preference to HHMI laboratories/investigators/early career scientists.

HHMI will then provide the individual applicants with information about completing the online application – including instructions for recommenders to upload their own reference letters into an online system.

Updated: September 21, 2015