It was founded by the American businessman Howard Hughes in 1953. It is one of the largest private funding organizations for biological and medical research in the United States. HHMI spends about $1 million per HHMI Investigator per year, which amounts to annual investment in biomedical research of about $825 million.
The institute has an endowment of $16.9 billion, making it the second-wealthiest philanthropic organization in the United States and the second best endowed medical research foundation in the world. HHMI is the former owner of the Hughes Aircraft Company – an American aerospace firm which was divested to various firms over time.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) research articles from Innovation Toronto
- IsoView Microscope helps scientists see the big picture – October 28, 2015
- Molecule-making machine simplifies complex chemistry – March 13, 2015
- Promising compound rapidly eliminates malaria parasite – December 7, 2014
- Giant leap against diabetes – October 13, 2014
- A paper diagnostic for cancer
- Research linking autism symptoms to gut microbes called ‘groundbreaking’
- Researchers build muscle in diseased mice; create human muscle cells in a dish
- Researchers regrow hair, cartilage, bone, soft tissues
- A Major Cause of Age-Related Memory Loss Identified
- Researchers advance the art of drug testing
- Unprecedented genome editing control in flies promises insight into human development, disease
- A New Wrinkle in Parkinson’s Disease Research
- New Compound Excels at Killing Persistent and Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis
- Genetic Engineering Alters Mosquitoes’ Sense of Smell
- Study Finds Vitamin C Can Kill Drug-Resistant TB
- Early warning system provides four-month forecast of malaria epidemics in northwest India
- UAB researchers cure type 1 diabetes in dogs
- Understanding the brain by controlling behavior
- Surviving Drought
- UW Scientists and Colleagues Achieve Breakthrough in Understanding Sense of Touch
- Breakthrough in designing cheaper, more efficient catalysts for fuel cells
- Potential Vaccine Readies Immune System to Kill Tuberculosis in Mice
- New Urine Test Shows Prostate Cancer Risk
- New microscope captures 3D movies of living cells
The smallest aerial drones mimic insects in many ways, but none can match the efficiency and maneuverability of the dragonfly. Now, engineers at Draper are creating a new kind of hybrid drone by combining miniaturized navigation, synthetic biology and neurotechnology to guide dragonfly insects. The system looks like a backpack for a dragonfly.
DragonflEye, an internal research and development project at Draper, is already showing promise as a way to guide the flightpath of dragonflies. Potential applications of the technologies underpinning DragonflEye include guided pollination, payload delivery, reconnaissance and even precision medicine and diagnostics.
“DragonflEye is a totally new kind of micro-aerial vehicle that’s smaller, lighter and stealthier than anything else that’s manmade,” said Jesse J. Wheeler, biomedical engineer at Draper and principal investigator on the program. “This system pushes the boundaries of energy harvesting, motion sensing, algorithms, miniaturization and optogenetics, all in a system small enough for an insect to wear.”
DragonflEye has been a team effort between Draper and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) at Janelia Research Campus to create new optogenetic tools that send guidance commands from the backpack to special “steering” neurons inside the dragonfly nerve cord.
Research at HHMI—led by Anthony Leonardo, Janelia Research Campus group leader—has led to a deeper understanding of “steering” neurons in the nervous system of the dragonfly that control flight. HHMI is applying techniques in synthetic biology to make these “steering” neurons sensitive to light by inserting genes similar to those naturally found in the eye.
Draper is developing tiny optical structures, called optrodes, that can activate the special “steering” neurons with pulses of light piped into the nerve cord from the dragonfly’s backpack. Traditional optical fibers are too stiff to be wrapped around the tiny dragonfly nerve cord, so Draper developed innovative flexible optrodes that can bend light around sub-millimeter turns. These optrodes will enable precise and targeted neural activation without disrupting the thousands of nearby neurons.
“Someday these same tools could advance medical treatments in humans, resulting in more effective therapies with fewer side effects,” said Wheeler. “Our flexible optrode technology provides a new solution to enable miniaturized diagnostics, safely access smaller neural targets and deliver higher precision therapies.”
Draper’s work on the DragonflEye program builds on its legacy in autonomous systems, microsystems, biomedical solutions and materials engineering and microfabrication. This deep expertise extended previous Janelia Research Campus work in energy harvesting and miniaturization to create the insect-scale autonomous navigation and neuromodulation system.
DragonflEye provides opportunities to put technology on some of nature’s most agile insects. For instance, honeybees, whose population has collapsed by half in the last 25 years, could be equipped with Draper’s technology to assist with pollination. One of nature’s greatest pollinators, honeybees contribute more than $15 billion to the value of U.S. agriculture every year. Draper’s tiny guidance system could help stem the loss of pollinators by monitoring their flight patterns, migration and overall health.