HHMI Interdisciplinary Life Science Grant

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Interdisciplinary Life Sciences Program at Whitman College

Whitman College was awarded an $800,000 grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) to strengthen the interdisciplinary life sciences curriculum at Whitman.  The award was part of a national program by HHMI to enhance undergraduate instruction and research in the life sciences. HHMI is the nation’s largest private supporter of science education and has invested more than $1.2 billion in grants to reinvigorate life science education at research universities and liberal arts colleges.

The grant will fund several initiatives in Whitman’s interdisciplinary life sciences curriculum from 2008-2012, enabling the college to:

  • expand student research opportunities for seniors engaged in thesis research and students early in their undergraduate career by supporting three student-faculty collaborative research teams on campus each summer AND two students as research interns in the basic sciences, clinical research, or human biology divisions at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
  • create a new faculty line in bioanalytical chemistry
  • develop new special-topics courses at the biology-chemistry interface, including courses in medicinal chemistry, bioinorganic chemistry, bioanalytical methods of analysis, and methods in structural biology
  • renovate the BBMB laboratory to integrate computational analysis with bench top experiments in the biochemistry, biophysics, and molecular biology labs. 
  • expand outreach partnerships with middle-school science teachers  in the Walla Walla Valley.

HHMI's support for the interdisciplinary life science programs at Whitman began in 1988 with an award to the biology and chemistry departments which enhanced student-faculty research and life science instrumentation, assisted in the creation of a combined major in biology-chemistry,  and supported summer workshops in biology, chemistry, and geology for high-school science teachers. A second award in 1996 funded the hiring of a faculty member in biophysics and the creation of the new BBMB major, and supported the renovations of introductory biology and physics labs.  Whitman is honored to receive such generous support to create and sustain our innovative teaching and research curriculum in the life sciences.