The Howard Hughes Medical Institute was founded in 1953 by aviator, moviemaker, and millionaire industrialist Howard Hughes to promote medical research and education. The initial endowment consisted of 75,000 shares of Hughes Aircraft stock. After Hughes' death in 1976, the endowment quickly grew from $4 million in 1975 to $15 million in 1978. During this time, the institute became more involved with genetics, immunology, and molecular biology. Another increase in the endowment occurred in the mid-1980s when General Motors purchased Hughes Aircraft, and by September 2005, it had reached nearly $15 billion.