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Enabling discoveries at the frontier: The new 2017 HFSP research grants

March 17, 2017

The International Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSPO) is awarding some $30 million to support the top 3% of the Research Grant applications. The 30 winning teams of the 2017 competition for the HFSP Research Grants went through a rigorous year-long selection process in a global competition that started with a record 1073 submitted letters of intent involving scientists with their laboratories in more than 60 different countries. Among the winners are 9 Young Investigator Grants and 21 Program Grants. Each team member receives on average $110,000 - $125,000 per year for 3 years.

Winning laboratories in Brazil, Mexico and South Africa confirm that "HFSPO is in a unique position to continue its global leadership role in promoting frontier research," said Warwick Anderson, Secretary General of the HFSPO. The 2017 Research Grants are remarkable in that there is a doubling of award winning laboratories belonging to some of the best engineering schools.

HFSP's collaborative Research Grants are given for a broad range of projects under the umbrella theme of "Complex mechanisms of living organisms". Particular emphasis is placed on cutting-edge, risky projects. While there are bilateral or regional agreements for international collaboration, the HFSP grant program is unique because it is the only international program that encourages bottom-up applications from teams involving scientists worldwide. Anderson emphasizes that "international collaboration in frontier research stands out as a driving force for breakthroughs across the entire life sciences and even beyond which will ultimately turn into benefits for mankind."

HFSP Program Grants appeal to the innovative and creative potential of the applicants and in the current round the breadth of the awarded projects includes research topics such as the evolution of counting, a material science approach to study the role of extracellular vesicles in breast cancer bone metastasis, a robotics-inspired study of amphibious locomotion, or a research team that looks at obesity from a mechanobiological point of view.

The HFSP Young Investigator Grants are limited to applicants within 5 years of establishing their independent research group and no more than 10 years from their doctoral degree. These grant teams also excel in topical diversity including studies on whether seabirds use infrasound for navigation, a study on how protein conformation shapes photochemistry and photophysics in light harvesting complexes, or how a molecular circadian clock may affect sleep-regulated neurophysiology.
Full lists of the 2017 HFSP awards are available at

The Human Frontier Science Program is an international program of research support implemented by the International Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSPO) based in Strasbourg, France. Its aims are to promote intercontinental collaboration and training in cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research focused on the life sciences. HFSPO receives financial support from the governments or research councils of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, the UK, the USA, as well as from the European Union.

Human Frontier Science Program

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