Jochen Zimmer Named Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator

We congratulate Jochen Zimmer for being named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator on September 23, 2021. The HHMI announcement can be found here.  Jochen is one of 33 outstanding scientists selected from over 800 applicants this year in a competition that is held approximately every three years. Based on their sustained track record of past research productivity at the highest level of impact, Howard Hughes Investigators are generously funded in increments of 7 years to pursue research of their choosing.

(Link to UVA Today article)

The UVA Health System shared the fantastic news with this announcement.

Dear Colleagues,

It is with extraordinary pride we share the news that Jochen Zimmer, PhD, professor of molecular physiology and biomedical physics, has been named an Investigator by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the largest private biomedical research institution in the nation. Investigators who achieve this honor — considered among the highest a biomedical scientist can achieve — have the potential to radically change how we think about biology, human health, and diseases. For example, 32 current or former HHMI Investigators have won the Nobel Prize.

Jochen is one of a new cohort of 33 scientists from across the country and was selected from more than 800 applicants. He is only the second HHMI Investigator ever from UVA and the first in more than two decades.

Recognition from HHMI is significant because of its philosophy to fund “people, not projects.” Each new Investigator will receive roughly $9 million over a seven-year term, which is renewable pending a successful scientific review. However, by not having a particular project funded, Jochen will have the freedom and flexibility to pursue whatever research projects he wishes in a manner of his choosing.

Jochen’s research interests include the transport of biopolymers across biological membranes. (You can learn more about the Zimmer Lab and its incredible team of postdocs, graduate students, and lab specialists here.) His efforts to understand how cells function may one day help scientists develop new biomaterials for medicines, food, and energy — potentially offering solutions to combat disease, fight hunger, and reduce the effects of climate change.

By dedicating himself to the pursuit and expansion of knowledge, Jochen represents the best of the UVA School of Medicine and the global reach of our life-saving research. This achievement exemplifies all the excellent research happening at UVA Health and our growth as one of the nation’s top academic health systems. Please join us in congratulating Jochen and his lab team on this remarkable achievement and for his determination in seeking this recognition. This is an amazing accomplishment, and we should all be proud.


Melina Kibbe, MD
Dean, UVA School of Medicine
James Carroll Flippin Professor of Medical Science
Chief Health Affairs Officer, UVA Health

K. Craig Kent, MD
Chief Executive Officer, UVA Health
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, University of Virginia