HFSP Nakasone Award

The HFSP Nakasone Award for Frontier Research

2020 HFSP Nakasone Award
Call for Nominations

Nominations are invited for the 2020 HFSP Nakasone Award.  Nominations must be submitted using the simple nomination form, which can be downloaded HERE.  Instructions are included in the form.

Proposers must provide:

1. The completed nomination form
2. The candidates CV

Nominations are to be submitted by 29 April 2019 by email to hfspnakasone@hfsp.org

The idea for the establishment of the prestigious HFSP Nakasone Award was proposed in Tokyo in July 2009 during the HFSP 20th anniversary celebrations in the presence of former Prime Minister Nakasone. The award honours the vision of former Prime Minister Nakasone for his efforts to launch a program of support for international collaboration and to foster early career scientists in a global context. Mr. Nakasone presented the idea of HFSP at the G7 economic summit in Venice in 1987 and, after an intense phase of preparation, the International Human Frontier Science Program Organization was established in Strasbourg, France in the autumn of 1989 to implement the Program. Since then it has supported approximately 7000 scientists from 70 countries, 28 of whom have gone on to win the Nobel Prize.

The HFSP Nakasone Award is designed to honour scientists who have undertaken frontier-moving research in biology, encompassing conceptual, experimental or technological breakthroughs. Both senior and junior scientists are eligible and peer-recognised excellence is the major criterion for selection. However, the jury will pay particular attention to recent breakthroughs by younger scientists. 

The awardee(s) will receive an unrestricted research grant of USD 10,000, a medal and a personalised certificate. The award ceremony will be held at the annual HFSP Awardees Meeting, where the awardee will deliver the HFSP Nakasone Lecture. The prize is open to all scientists, not only those who have received funding within the HFSP.

Proposers should take into account the following points when choosing nominees:

The award is for scientific excellence of a clearly defined discovery or series of discoveries in basic life sciences research, in accord with HFSPO’s mission to support basic research into the “complex mechanisms of living organisms”. Areas have traditionally ranged from molecular and cellular approaches to biological functions to systems neuroscience including cognitive functions. However, all levels of complexity involving mechanisms of biological phenomena or the interactions between organisms will be considered.

The discovery or discoveries shall:

Experimental, conceptual and technological contributions are all eligible.

The award is not for life-time achievement.


This is an open award, not restricted to HFSPO funded scientists and there are no restrictions on who may be nominated. However, HFSPO has a focus on early career scientists through its Fellowship and Research Grant funding programs and so nominations of scientists who have achieved a recent significant breakthrough at an early stage of their careers are especially encouraged.

Both the nomination and the nominees may be from any country.

Up to three scientists may be jointly nominated and share the HFSP Nakasone Award. These scientists should be co-authors on breakthrough publications or collaborators of key discoveries. Separate nominees for the same breakthrough will not be considered.

Self-nominations are not accepted.

Coordinated multiple nominations for a candidate(s) will be considered as a single nomination. While nominations for a scientist may be submitted by several different parties, there is no advantage to submitting several nominations for the same person. Multiple nominations will be merged for the purpose of the review.

Members of the HFSPO Board of Trustees and Council of Scientists are not eligible for nomination and may not nominate candidates in order to avoid a perception of conflict of interest. The current members may be consulted here: Board of Trustees; Council of Scientists.  

Previous Awardees

The winner of the 2019 HFSP Nakasone Award will be announced at a press conference at the World Conference of Scientific Journalists on 2 July 2019.

2018 Svante Pääbo from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany for his discovery of the extent to which hybridization with Neanderthals and Denisovans has shaped the evolution of modern humans, and his development of techniques for sequencing DNA from fossils.

2017 David Julius from the University of California San Francisco, USA for his discovery of the molecular mechanism of thermal sensing in animals.

2016 Emmanuelle Charpentier from the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, Germany and Jennifer Doudna from the University of California at Berkeley, USA for their groundbreaking work on the CRISPR-Cas 9 system.

2015 James Collins from Boston University, USA for his innovative work on synthetic gene networks and programmable cells.

2014 Uri Alon from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel for his groundbreaking work on network motifs.

2013 Stephen Quake from Stanford University, USA for his pioneering work advancing biological measurement techniques.

2012 Gina Turrigiano from Brandeis University, Waltham, USA for introducing the concept of homeostatic synaptic plasticity.

2011 Michael Elowitz from the California Institute of Technology, USA for his key studies on gene expression noise.

2010 Karl Deisseroth  from Stanford University, USA for his pioneering work on the application of microbial opsins as "optogenetic" tools in neurobiology.