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May 23, 2003
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Renews Support of the Marine Biological Laboratory's Education Program with $2.2 Million Grant

WOODS HOLE, MA—The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has awarded the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) a four-year, $2.2 million grant that will support the Laboratory's advanced courses for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and university faculty members. The MBL has received more than $10 million in HHMI grants over the last 15 years, enabling the Laboratory to offer scholarships to scientists around the world and to attract leading researchers as course directors and lecturers.  The HHMI grant will support the majority of the MBL's summer courses including Embryology, Physiology, Neural Systems and Behavior, Neurobiology, Biology of Parasitism, and Microbial Diversity, as well as several special topics courses including two new courses "Advances in Genome Technology and Bioinformatics" and "Neuroinformatics."

"We remain extremely grateful to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for its sustained support of the Marine Biological Laboratory's educational program," said William T. Speck, MBL Director and CEO. "This support has enabled the Laboratory to create an unparalleled portfolio of scientific courses that have attracted students and faculty from around the world."

Students in MBL courses are drawn from a highly qualified pool of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty, and researchers, and represent a broad mix of biologists, biochemists, clinical scientists, physical scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and computer scientists. In 2002, 499 students from 288 institutions representing 31 countries participated in courses offered by the Laboratory.  The MBL's courses encompass current advances in biomedical exploration and equip students with the skills to ask the most relevant questions in their research.  A student in the 2002 MBL Embryology course commented: "This course introduced me to the highest standards of my field.  It showed me how to think about research and the types of questions that can be answered.  I also feel that this course has triggered my imagination in unexpected ways."

Known throughout the life sciences for kick-starting research careers, MBL courses offer students an opportunity for exchange with members of the research community, as well as an intensive individual research experience.  No single university can provide a faculty comparable in quality or number to those who teach MBL courses. Faculty is chosen from the best at all universities, enabling the MBL to field an all-star team of instructors who typically present material too new to be in the textbooks. To assure that the courses stay on the cutting edge, the MBL limits even the most successful course directors to five years at the helm.

"The courses at The Marine Biological Laboratory are of the highest quality and have been shown to significantly impact the careers of many of those who participated in them," says William R. Galey, who heads HHMI's graduate grants program. "Our support continues our commitment to exceptional graduate education."

Summer courses at the MBL last from six to nine weeks, and consist of formal lectures integrated with laboratory instruction and research. Special topics courses last from one to six weeks long and provide students with experience in specialized research techniques.