Peter J. Bruns
Vice President, Office of Grants & Special Programs
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
HHMI's Trustees named Peter J. Bruns, Ph.D., as Vice President for Grants and Special Programs in 2000. Bruns heads the Institute's grants program, which sponsors programs to strengthen science education at all levels, advance public understanding and appreciation of science, and broaden access to science. In addition, through its International Research Scholars Program, HHMI supports outstanding biomedical scientists abroad and creates a global science network, connecting the Research Scholars with each other, HHMI Investigators and educators and students. To advance those goals, HHMI has awarded approximately $1.5 billion since 1988 in grants to schools, colleges, universities, other institutions, and individuals.
A faculty member in genetics at Cornell University for over 30 years before joining HHMI, Bruns had an active research program in the genetics and molecular biology of the single-celled organism Tetrahymena thermophila. He pioneered methods to manipulate the unusual nuclear composition of these organisms, including unique ways to eliminate whole chromosomes and add new genes. In addition, he earned a national reputation for efforts to improve science education for students at all levels. He established the Cornell Institute for Biology Teachers, designed to strengthen high school science instruction. He also expanded opportunities for Cornell students to conduct original laboratory research in biology and related disciplines.
Bruns earned his bachelor's degree from Syracuse University and his doctorate from the University of Illinois before joining the Cornell faculty in 1969. He has been active in numerous professional organizations and as a reviewer for scientific journals.