Axon elongation and centrosomes

Scientific activities

The Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) is an international program of research support, funding frontier research on the complex mechanisms of living organisms. Research is funded at all levels of biological complexity from biomolecules to the interactions between organisms.

Key elements of HFSP’s mission are:

  • Support for innovative, cutting edge research at the frontiers of the life sciences
  • Encouragement of high risk research
  • Promotion of international collaboration in the spirit of science without borders
  • Support for financial and intellectual independence for early career researchers

Selection of awards is made by high level, expert international review committees. Research Grants enable scientists from different countries to collaborate on focused innovative projects that are expected to open new fields of investigation. Interdisciplinary collaborations are especially encouraged. Postdoctoral fellowships enable the most talented early career scientists, trained in the life sciences or in the physical sciences, to extend their scientific repertoire in laboratories abroad. Former HFSP Fellows who return to their home country or move to a third HFSP member country can apply for a Career Development Award to support their transition to independence.

HFSP awardees are brought together in an annual meeting to help build a global network of like-minded scientists working on a broad range of subjects within the life sciences and to stimulate new collaborations.

HFSP funding programs are strictly project-related and begin at the postdoctoral level. We have no support for PhD students nor for travel grants to scientific meetings. Nor do we provide sponsorship or funds to organisers of scientific meetings.

More on HFSP funding programs

HFSP supports international scientific collaborations. Research Grants are awarded for innovative research projects involving extensive collaboration among teams of independent scientists working in different countries and in different disciplines.

Two types of grants are available: Young Investigator Grants for teams where all members are within 5 years of starting their first independent position (and within 10 years of receiving a PhD) and Program Grants for teams of scientists at any stage of their careers.

Applicants must first submit a letter of intent via the HFSP extranet. More details are available in the GUIDELINES which you should read before starting an application.

The 2016 competition (application in March 2015 for award to be announced in March 2016) is now closed.

The next call is expected to be announced in December 2015.

Further information on Grant Programs

HFSP fellowships support top postdoctoral researchers that propose innovative, ground-breaking projects that have the potential to advance the knowledge in their field of study and open a new approach to the research problem.


The call for fellowship applications is open.

The next submission deadline is 27 August 2015.

Two international programs for basic research training are available:

Long-Term Fellowships (LTF) are reserved for applicants with a Ph.D. in a biological discipline to embark on a new project in a different field of the life sciences. Preference is given to applicants who propose an original study in biology that marks a departure from their previous Ph.D. or postdoctoral work so as to learn new methods or change study system.

Cross-Disciplinary Fellowships (CDF) are open to applicants with a Ph.D. from outside the life sciences e.g. in physics, chemistry, mathematics, engineering or computer sciences who have had limited exposure to biology during their previous training. Applicants for the CDF should propose a significant departure from their past research by changing e.g. from material science or physics to cell biology, from chemistry to molecular biology, or from computer science to neuroscience.

More on HFSP Fellowships

The Career Development Award (CDA) is open only to former HFSP Fellows and offers three years of support for starting their first independent laboratory.

The goal of CDA is to support former HFSP fellows to return to their home country or move to an HFSP member country to initiate an original research program in their own laboratories as independent researchers. Candidates are furthermore encouraged to select research institutions that are different from their PhD institutes to facilitate their scientific independence.

Applicants for the CDA are expected to propose an original and innovative frontier research program that holds promise for the development of new approaches to problems in the life sciences with potential to advance the field of research significantly.

The three-year award aims to provide initial support during a critical period of career development. Host institutions are expected to contribute additional resources in support of the awardees and their independent research program.

Eligible HFSP fellows will receive information in good time to apply for the Award.

More on the HFSP Career Development Award

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31st March

2015 HFSP awards in the news

Once again, we are happy to see institutions publicising their scientists' prestigious HFSP awards! Listed below are those...

26th March

The 2015 HFSP awards

HFSP is pleased to announce the 2015 Research Grants, Fellowships and Career Development Awards. The awards were approved by the...

24th November

HFSP 25th anniversary celebrations

In 2014, HFSP marked a quarter century of funding frontier research with two commemorative anniversary events in Lugano,...

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Awardees' Articles RSS

The protein quality control machinery regulates its misassembled proteasome subunits

Our study used the baker yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model system to reveal for the first time how the dysfunctional...

Real-time tracking of single RNA molecules

The ability to track fast moving particles in 3D is limited in classic light microscopy as image stacks are acquired as a series...

Take your time to decide: to swim or not to swim

Animals use sensory evidence to decide what to do and when to do it. In fact, when presented with certain stimuli, it may take up...

A new genomic tool defines the human transcriptional landscape with single-nucleotide precision

How genomes are transcribed by RNA polymerases in living cells is poorly defined. Here, we developed a genomic approach that...

A novel imaging protocol to dynamically study axonal transport in developing fly brains [with video]

How the transport of various molecules to neuronal processes (dendrites and axons) is regulated in vivo, in response to...

Targeting clusters of circulating tumor cells to suppress metastasis

Recently, breakthrough technological advances have made it possible, for the first time, to isolate and characterize...

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Frontier Science

Frontier Science

Articles about HFSP-funded research and matters related to international frontier science

Guiding light: the mysteries of firefly bioluminescence unfold

In 2011, HFSP awarded a Young Investigator Grant to an international team of researchers to study the "Excited-State...

Happenchance and hedgehogs

Earlier this year, the European Medicines Agency approved the use of a new anti-cancer drug, Erivedge, developed by Genentech in...

Crowdsourcing the design of swarming nanoparticles for cancer applications

The treatment of cancer is undergoing what could be called a revolution. The field has attracted the attention of bioengineers...

More Frontier Science