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American philanthropic foundation, established in 1953 by the aviator and industrialist Howard Hughes. From its offices in Chevy Chase, Md., the organization subsidizes biomedical research at hospitals and universities throughout the United States, chiefly in genetics, immunology, cell biology, structural biology, and the neurosciences. It also provides educational funding. Although it was originally created by Hughes as a tax shelter, the institute is now one of the world's largest and most powerful charities