project overview


NCPRE is developing a modular leadership/professional development program for HHMI, with each module based around one or more common dilemmas faced in the specific environments of HHMI researchers. 

In today’s world, the research endeavor requires more than just “good science,” it requires strong lab leaders and lab members who are able to collaborate at the highest levels for team science.  Scientists must—to the best of their abilities—successfully navigate the pitfalls and problems that are inherent in team settings.

The leadership program will provide scientific leaders meaningful, tailored curriculum designed to support ethical laboratory and scientific practices, to improve cultural awareness, and to be able to lead effectively lab members. The professional development program will provide members of their laboratories with skills to help them achieve productive careers within a complex, competitive, and challenging research environment. 

This leadership/professional development program is integrated with responsible conduct of research training as how scientists interact with others and how they conduct research are intertwined with their core professional values.  All three areas must be addressed to prepare researchers of all backgrounds and levels of responsibility to be better able to work effectively with diverse others to achieve the highest standards of scientific rigor, reproducibility, and integrity.

Better Science via Leadership Development

Program Goals

HHMI Mission and Values - People advance science for the benefit of humanity and scientists are accountable. Responsible Conduct of Research - conduct research at highest levels of integrity. Cultural Competency and Inclusion - Build relationships that transcend differences; understand how values, biases, assumptions influence behavior. Power and Incivility - understand the role of power, how to get help, report problems, the critical role of bystanders. Leadership Skills - manage the social nature of interactions in a lab. Take Action - Enhance communication, motivation, and problem-solving skills; lab members also prepare for leadership.


overhead shot of people talking

A Tale of Two Labs Film Premiere Event

NCPRE hosted a premiere of the feature film A Tale of Two Labs at the University of Illinois in October 2023 and received overwhelmingly positive feedback, with additional screenings and audience reaction assessments at two University of Illinois institutes: Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.


Ethics Center to develop leadership curriculum for Howard Hughes Medical Institute

For scientific leaders today, it’s not enough to generate rigorous and reproducible research. What sets researchers apart is their ability to lead—building a healthy and inclusive work environment, developing early career scientists, and making the right decisions in a wide variety of tough situations. But how? Even the best researchers have rarely received any formal training in the complex role of being a scientific leader.

Researchers from the University of Illinois’ National Center for Principled Leadership & Research Ethics (NCPRE) are developing a new curriculum for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), a nonprofit research organization that employs scientists at more than 60 universities, hospitals, and other research institutions nationwide. The curriculum will support HHMI scientists in creating a culture that encourages the highest levels of excellence and productivity, by coaching them in specific strategies and behaviors for dealing with ethical challenges. The $2.6 million initiative is called “Labs That Work … For Everyone.”

New Extended film trailer

What to Expect Animation video