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Searle Leadership Fund

The Searle Leadership Fund in the Life Sciences is dedicated to investing extraordinary resources in the most promising new life sciences faculty at Northwestern University.

Established at Northwestern in 1980 by The Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, the Searle Leadership Fund was one of the earliest allocations of the bequest of John G. Searle (Chair, Board of Trustees, 1964-1970).

Goals for the Searle Leadership Fund:

  • Recruit the top national and international candidates for tenure track junior faculty positions in the basic life sciences by providing candidates with financially competitive start-up packages and with special institutional recognition.
  • Increase communication between the basic life sciences departments in FSM, WCAS and McCormick before and during the hiring and recruitment processes, and enhance the recruitment of faculty who will be broadly interactive across departments and campuses, including joint hires between schools.
  • Provide an added focus on diversity in faculty hiring in the basic life sciences at Northwestern.

Recruitment Process:

The recruitment process within life sciences departments should be designed so as to achieve the goals of enhancing cross-school interaction and recruiting outstanding new faculty who increase diversity at Northwestern.

Each year, chairs of each of the eight basic biosciences departments will share their hiring plans and recommend individuals from their faculty to serve on the search committees of other life sciences departments. 

The search committee should take active steps to recruit women and minority candidates, and must document these efforts if a candidate from the search is to be considered for Searle Leadership funding.

Recommended steps include the following:

  1. Search committees with members from multiple departments, and ideally from multiple schools. The committee should include women (at least two, unless there are extenuating circumstances). While inclusion of underrepresented minority populations is certainly desirable, it is recognized that this may not always be possible.
  2. Participation of committee members in a workshop or program designed to sensitize the committee to unconscious bias and to establish optimal practices for the recruitment of women and underrepresented populations.
  3. Using strategies such as directed phone calls, identification of candidates at conferences, targeted mailing, and advertisement that will facilitate the identification of a diverse pool of candidates.
  4. Efforts should be made to ensure that a large fraction of the candidates invited to campus to interview are female or from an underrepresented population.

On the campus interviews, candidate should, where possible, interview broadly across the university (with faculty from multiple departments and perhaps schools). This might be appropriate on the first visit, and it is very strongly encouraged on the second visit.

Nomination Process:

  1. Candidates that are put forward should be in the cohort of the highest quality prospective faculty. Their research area and contribution to diversity should be consistent with the strategic priorities of the university, and they should have strong leadership skills and potential.
  2. Search committees in the basic life sciences that have identified a stellar candidate for an Searle Leadership position, should submit through the chair to the appropriate school or college. The application should contain the following:
    1. Documentation that the search met the criteria described above. This should discuss the efforts of the search committee to identify a diverse pool of candidates.
    2. A cover letter from dean and chair(s) with information about the nominee’s potential impact on the research enterprise of Northwestern and the Chicago area at large.
    3. The nominee’s complete CV, research description and three letters of recommendation.
  3. A portfolio will be forwarded as a single PDF file from the school’s dean’s office to Rex Chisholm ( A senior faculty committee reviews each candidate’s portfolio; the committee makes the recommendations for Searle Leadership funding to Interim Vice President for Research Milan Mrksich.