A recruitment and retention programme launched by the Howard Hughes Medical Institution (HHMI) in Chevy Chase, Maryland, aims to reduce barriers for women and under-represented minorities who seek academic-research careers in the life sciences. Those barriers include financial hardship, few mentoring and networking opportunities and uncertain career prospects. The Hanna H. Gray Fellows Program will support postdocs for up to four years with a US$60,000 annual stipend, plus up to $20,000 per year in flexible funds that can be used for family support or other purposes. For eligible fellows who become faculty members, the programme also provides up to $250,000 a year, plus $20,000 annually in flexible funds for up to four years. That funding will make recipients more attractive to universities, says Barbara Graves, HHMI senior scientific officer. Fellows can tap into HHMI's network of investigators for mentoring and networking, she says. The application deadline is 15 February 2017. See go.nature.com/2d9avh9 for more information.