Since its founding in 1930, the Institute has remained, in the words of its founding Director Abraham Flexner, "small and plastic". While its influence, through the achievements of its Faculty and Members and through the new institutions it has inspired, has been wide and profound, the Institute retains the intimacy and focus envisioned by its founders. It is, in its very essence, a community of scholars, both those who are here now, and more broadly, all who have benefited from membership.
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Each year about 200 Members come to the Institute where they are given the freedom to work on the attainment of long-term goals without pressure for immediate results. We believe, as Abraham Flexner did, that the research that has the most profound impact on knowledge and understanding, and so often that which ultimately has the most profound impact on everyday life, is that driven by curiosity rather than immediate application. In a world in which funding bodies tend to support research that is programmatic and promises predetermined deliverables, the freedom provided by the Institute to its Faculty and Members is increasingly rare.