Research Grants | Human Frontier Science Program (2023)

Research Grants | Human Frontier Science Program (1)

Distinguishing Features of the HFSP Research Grant Program

HFSP Research Grants support innovative basic research into fundamental biological problems with emphasis placed on novel and interdisciplinary approaches that involve scientific exchanges across national and disciplinary boundaries (see guidelines).

Participation of scientists from disciplines outside the traditional life sciences such as biophysics, chemistry, computational biology, computer science, engineering, mathematics, nanoscience or physics is recommended because such collaborations have opened up new approaches for understanding the complex structures and regulatory networks that characterize living organisms, their evolution and interactions.

Research grants are provided for teams of scientists from different countries who wish to combine their expertise in innovative approaches to questions that could not be answered by individual laboratories. Preliminary results are not required and applicants are expected to develop new lines of research through the research collaboration.

It is understood that such research inherently contains risks and HFSP expects that teams of applicants address the risks and outline mitigation strategies for their research in case of failure and how they intend to achieve their goals.

Applications for applied research, including medical research typically funded by national medical research bodies, will be deemed ineligible (see guidelines).

Two types of Grant are available: Research Grants – Early Career and Research Grants – Program.

Research Grants - Early Career*
All team members are expected to direct a research group (however small) and must have a doctoral degree (PhD, MD or equivalent). They must be in a position to initiate and direct their own independent lines of research. The HFSP award is not intended to create scientific independence, this is a decision of the research institute prior to the application.

Research Grants - Program
Awarded to teams of independent researchers at any stage of their careers. The research team is expected to develop new lines of research through the collaboration. Applications including independent investigators early in their careers are encouraged.

Both provide three years support for 2 – 4 member teams.

Awards are fixed sums dependent upon team size.

*Former Young Investigators

For Applicants

For problems entering ORCID and/or MD/PhD degree or equivalent please see the following video:

The new site for letter of intent applications, ProposalCentral, is now open. Please check the instructions below and the guidelines before requesting a reference number.

Applicants must submit a letter of intent to apply for a research grant via the HFSP website with a deadline at the end of March, and after review, selected teams will be invited to submit a full application.

Link to create an account: ProposalCentral

Links to directly access the application site (for Principal Applicants only) are inactivated as the letter of intent initiation deadline has passed:
Research Grant-Program
Research Grant-Early Career

Step 1 : Letters of Intent


i. Compulsory initiation of a letter of Intent by obtaining a reference number (LOI ID number 9XX XXX) by March 24th 2022(updated for each cycle)

ii. Submission of Letters of Intent: March 31st 2022(updated for each cycle)

Please read the guidelines and the document ‘Writing a letter of intent’ carefully to establish whether your project is clearly in tune with the requirements and emphasis of the research grant program.To apply for a grant, you must first submit a Letter of Intent online as described below. Scientific elements needed to complete an application are provided here. The main steps in applying are as follows:

1. The research team must designate one member as Principal Applicant, who will be responsible for final submission of the letter of intent. Note the requirement that the Principal Applicant must have his/her primary laboratory in a member country. See the guidelines (Item 3.2. “Principal Applicant”) for more detail.

2. In setting up the team, the Principal Applicant must ensure that no team member is a Principal Applicant or Co-Applicant on another proposal (see Item 3.7."Concurrent Applications" in the guidelines). Failure to ensure this will result in all those applications being withdrawn from the competition.

3. The Principal Applicant must obtain a 2023 reference application number on the application site (link will be update after site opening by mid/end January 2022) as early as possible, but by March 24th, 2022at latest. To this aim, the Principal Applicant will first have to set up an account (if not already in the HFSP database). This will give access to the online application form and further instructions concerning online submission (including the addition of the other team members). This applies even to Principal Applicants already listed in the HFSP database (e.g. those re-applying from last year). It is essential to obtain a 2023 reference number until March 24th. Team members can be modified up to the final submission date.

4. All team members must be designated as co-applicants on the online form and all co-applicants must approve their participation by accessing the online form before the application can be completed and submitted. A brief explanation of the contributions of the different disciplinary expertise should be provided in the summary which will be used in guiding the review process.

5. The letter of intent must be submitted by March 31st 2022. No changes can be made to the letter of intent after final submission.

6. The Principal Applicant will be notified by the beginning of July if the team is invited to submit a full application. The deadline for the full application will be mid - September 2022.

Step 2 : Full Applications

For information only, see HERE the instructions for submitting full applications in the 2023 cycle. These are updated each year.

For Awardees

See HERE other helpful resources for Research Grant awardees.

For questions or assistance, please contact the Research Grant Office at Click here to show mail address.

HFSP Research Grants support teams of independent leaders of research groups. Therefore applications from individual scientists or early career researchers carrying out their postdoctoral or PhD level projects are not eligible.

  • The Principal Applicant of a Research Grant must have a laboratory in a member country (with the exception of HFSP Career Development Awardees). The other team members and their laboratories may be situated anywhere in the world.
  • All team members are expected to direct a research group (however small) and must have a doctoral degree (PhD, MD or equivalent). They must be in a position to initiate and direct their own independent lines of research. The HFSP award is not intended to create scientific independence, this is a decision of the research institute prior to the application.
  • All team members must be able to determine the course of the HFSP-funded project and have freedom to administer the grant, if awarded.
  • Structure of the team. The research teams must be international (preferably intercontinental). Normally, there will be only one team member with a laboratory in each country, teams with two members at the same institution are not eligible.
  • Team members should not have collaborated before, they will normally not have published original research together, and the project must be significantly different from their ongoing research.

Research Grants – Early Career

  • All members of an Early Career grant team must be within 5 years of obtaining an independent position (see below) and must have obtained their first doctoral degree (PhD, MD or equivalent) not longer than 10 years before the deadline for submission of the letter of intent.
  • All applicants for an Early Career grant must be project leaders directing a research group (however small) and must have full responsibility for the day to day running of their laboratories and will have full control of the HFSP funds.
  • Written confirmation may be requested from the Head of Department in the case of an applicant who independently oversees a research theme.

Research Grants – Program

  • While researchers can be at any stage in their independent career, participation of early career researchers is encouraged also in Program Grants.

Additional conditions regarding the institutional affiliations, the number of team members, the country of affiliation, internationality of the team, concurrent applications and new applications from previous grant awardees are given in the guidelines .

There is a single annual competition for Research Grant awards. Review of research grant applications is performed in two stages:

1. Applicants must first submit a letter of intent via the HFSP website, with a deadline around the end of March/beginning of April. After review of the letters of intent, invitations are issued in early July to the teams selected to submit full applications.

2. Full applications are then due around the middle of September, on invitation only.

Letters of intent

Projects will be pre-screened upon reception by a small scientific committee (three HFSP Scientific Directors and two members of the Review Committee) for the eligibility of the applicants and for concordance with the scientific scope. Any project that does not meet the requirements will not be sent for review, and the Principal Applicant will be informed as soon as possible.

The remaining letters of intent will be evaluated by the Review Committee (see a list of present members here). Review Committee members evaluate and score the applications following the criteria of novelty/originality and frontierness, interdisciplinarity as well as team qualification and integration. In a second step, a Selection Committee will take the decision which applicants are invited to submit a full application. Applicants will be notified early July 2022 whether they are invited to submit a full application, with a deadline mid-September 2022.

SeeHEREfor members of the selection committee for the 2023 award round.

Full applications

Each Full Application is reviewed by two members of the Review Committee and by expert reviewers solicited from the scientific community. Every effort is made to obtain at least three independent external reviews per application. The Review Committee members submit their evaluations to the HFSP Secretariat before the committee meets. In cases where the opinions of the Review Committee members assigned to an application differ significantly, the application is sent to a third member. The committee members are also asked to read all the applications before the meeting to ensure thorough discussion and all full applications are discussed at the meeting. The same criteria that were applied for the Letters of Intent are used to evaluate the full applications .Between 30 of Full Applications are successful.

The Research Grants - Early Career and Program are reviewed as two separate groups but the procedures are identical (see Peer Review Process).

The recommendations of the Review Committee must be approved by members of the Council of Scientists and the Board of Trustees before the awards are announced at the end of March.

SeeHEREfor current members of the Research Grant Review Committee.

HFSP is a signatory to the San Francisco Declaration of Research Assessment (DORA) which we consider to be an incentive to evaluate research proposals on the basis of their content and not solely by the criterion of Journal Impact Factors (JIF). Reviewers at all stages of the HFSP grant application process are advised that they should consider the quality of the research published and/or proposed in an application. While productivity may be an important factor, the assessment will be based on the content of articles and not the JIF. Furthermore HFSP reviewers are asked to consider the influence of candidates’ publications in advancing knowledge in a given field (or throughout biology).

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