Finance & Investments

September 1, 2008–August 31, 2009

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is the nation’s largest private supporter of academic biomedical research. Classified as a medical research organization by the Internal Revenue Service, the Institute is required to spend at least 3.5 percent of its endowment each year on direct medical research activities and related overhead, exclusive of grants and investment management expenses. The endowment is the Institute’s principal source of funding. The investment objective is to manage the endowment in a prudent manner that will maintain its purchasing power and will fund the Institute’s research and grants programs in perpetuity. On August 31, 2009, the endowment was approximately $14.0 billion.

Disbursements in Fiscal Year 2009

Disbursements during the fiscal year totaled $831 million: $730 million for HHMI scientific research and $101 million for grants for science education and international research scholars. Over the past five years, disbursements by the Institute totaled in excess of $3.8 billion.

Chart outline











($ in millions)






































Scientific Research





















Grants and Special Programs













































Endowment Allocations

Real assets:
International equity:
Distressed and credit sensitive:
Market neutral arbitrage:
Hedged equity:
Private equity:
Domestic equity:

Scientific Research

HHMI’s research activities are conducted principally at Institute laboratories at medical centers, teaching hospitals and universities in the United States by investigators who hold faculty appointments at those host institutions. These individuals, together with their support staffs, are HHMI employees and are compensated directly by the Institute. Investigators may spend up to 25 percent of their time on teaching, administration, and other activities that benefit their institutions.

The Institute also conducts research at its Janelia Farm Research Campus in Loudoun County, Virginia, where Institute researchers are focused on identifying the general principles that govern how information is processed by neuronal circuits, and developing imaging technologies and computational methods for image analysis.

At the end of fiscal year 2009, the Institute employed more than 375 scientists at over 70 academic medical centers and Janelia Farm.

As of August 31, 2009, the Institute’s investment in laboratory space, equipment, and other property amounted to nearly $1.5 billion, with a current replacement value of approximately $1.9 billion.

Grants and Special Programs

Through its grants program, the Institute supports science education at all levels, from the earliest grades through advanced research training. It also directly supports scientists conducting research in the biological sciences in selected foreign countries. The Institute disbursed $101 million to support the activities of 488 grantees in 29 countries during fiscal year 2009.

Endowment and Financing

The Institute’s endowment is managed under the direction of its Vice President and Chief Investment Officer. Approximately 84 percent of the endowment is invested by external fund managers; the remainder is internally managed. External managers are used principally to manage alternative investments, including hedge funds, private equity, and derivatives.

At the close of fiscal year 2009, the endowment value was approximately $14.0 billion, a decrease of $3.5 billion from the end of fiscal year 2008.

In August 2009 the Institute issued $600 million in taxable bonds to establish a program spending reserve which may be used to fund the Institute’s research program. In addition, subsequent to the end of the fiscal year, the Institute issued $23 million in tax-exempt bonds to finance the construction of 60 apartment housing units for visiting scientists and employees at the Janelia Farm Research Campus.

The composition of the Institute’s endowment by investment category on August 31, 2009, is reflected in the graph above.

Financials outline FPO
Statement of Financial Position
August 31, 2009 and 2008
(in millions)
Assets 2009 2008
Cash and Cash Equivalents $ 755 $ 202
Investments 14,202 18,270
Investment and currency receivables, and other
assets 191 2,259
Laboratory space, equipment and other
property - at cost, net of accumulated
depreciation and amortization 865 836
Total Assets     16,013     21,567
Accounts payable, accrued expenses and obligations 306 203
Grant commitments 132 202
Investment purchases payable, repurchase obligations,
short sales and currency payables 423 3,047
Notes and bonds payable 1,300 700
Total Liabilities     2,161     4,152
Net Assets   $ 13,852   $ 17,415

Financial Information

The Institute employs the firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as its independent auditor. The audited financial statements of the Institute for the year ended August 31, 2009, and the independent auditor’s report thereon are available on the Institute’s Web site at, or they may be obtained by writing to:

Howard Hughes Medical Institute
4000 Jones Bridge Road
Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815-6789

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