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HFSP Nakasone Award

HFSP Nakasone Award

The HFSP Nakasone Award is an annual award for ground-breaking contributions or breakthrough discoveries in the life sciences which rewards achievements in scientific excellence resulting in a particular discovery that has moved the frontiers of knowledge in biology.

The award recognizes the vision of former Prime Minister Nakasone of Japan in creating the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) whose mission is “to promote, through international cooperation, basic research focused on the elucidation of the sophisticated and complex mechanisms of living organisms.” Likewise, HFSP is committed to diversity and inclusion and especially seeks nominations of scientists that advance greater equity and inclusion in the global scientific enterprise.

Scientific Merit

The award is given for scientific excellence of a clearly defined discovery or series of discoveries in basic life science research that dates back not more than 10 years, and that is in accord with HFSP’s mission to support basic research into the “complex mechanisms of living organisms.”

The 10 year period following the discovery should be evident from publications that are listed in the nomination document. The HFSP Nakasone Award seeks to reward a distinct breakthrough and is not meant to be a lifetime achievement award.

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 themselves and with the environment will be considered.

The discovery or discoveries shall:

1. be frontier contributions to knowledge in the life sciences dating back no longer than 10 years;

2. have resulted in a notable conceptual breakthrough that has had significant consequences for scientists throughout the world;

3. be identifiable via (a) specific publication(s).

4. Experimental, conceptual and technological contributions are all eligible.

The awardee(s) will receive an unrestricted research grant of 15,000 USD, a commemorative medal, a certificate and will deliver the HFSP Nakasone Lecture at the HFSP Awardees Meeting.



Rotem Sorek is the winner of 2023 HFSP Nakasone Award

2023 - Rotem Sorek

The 2023 HFSP Nakasone Award is awarded to Rotem Sorek for his groundbreaking discoveries of the diversity and operation of prokaryotic immune systems that revolutionized our understanding of virus defence and explained how related features of the human immune system evolved.

Aviv Regev

2022 - Aviv Regev

The 2022 HFSP Nakasone Award is awarded to Aviv Regev for unravelling the biological processes controlling cellular phenotype through innovative computational, mathematical, and experimental approaches applied to single-cell genomics.

Hartl and Horwich

2022 - Franz-Ulrich Hartl and Arthur L. Horwich

The 2022 HFSP Nakasone Award is awarded jointly to Franz-Ulrich Hartl and Arthur L. Horwich for their discoveries revealing the functions and mechanisms of chaperone-mediated protein folding and the implication of their work in understanding human disease.

Hyman and Brangwynne

2021 - Anthony Hyman and Clifford Brangwynne

The 2021 HFSP Nakasone Award is awarded jointly to Anthony Hyman and Clifford Brangwynne for their discovery of a new state of biological matter, phase-separated macromolecule condensates, that play an important role in cell organisation, gene regulation, signalling and pathology.

Angelika Amon

2020 - Angelika Amon

Angelika Amon of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT has been awarded the 2020 HFSP Nakasone Award for 'discovering aneuploidy-induced cellular changes and their contribution to tumorigenesis.'

Michael Hall

2019 - Michael Hall

Michael N. Hall of the Biozentrum at the University of Basel in Switzerland is awarded the 2019 HFSP Nakasone Award for the 'discovery of the master regulator of cell growth, the target of rapamycin (TOR) kinase.'  


S Paabo

2018 - Svante Pääbo

Svante Pääbo received the 2018 HFSP Nakasone Award 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.

D Julius

2017 - David Julius

David Julius was awarded the 2017 HFSP Nakasone Award for his 'discovery of the molecular mechanism of thermal sensing in animals' because it has defined a field of sensory reception.

Charpentier and Doudna

2016 - Emmanuelle Charpentier & Jennifer Doudna

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna have been awarded the  2016 HFSP Nakasone Award for their seminal work on the CRISPR-Cas9 system.

J Collins

2015 - James Collins

James Collins received the 2015 HFSP Nakasone Award for his innovative work on synthetic gene networks and programmable cells that launched the exciting field of synthetic biology.


U Alon

2014 - Uri Alon

Uri Alon received the 2014 HFSP Nakasone Award for his pioneering work in discovering network motifs, which provided the single most important foundation of the field of systems biology, opening up the previously impenetrable complexity of genetic circuits to systematic analysis and understanding.

S Quake

2013 - Stephen Quake

Stephen Quake of Stanford University received the 2013 HFSP Nakasone Award for his prolific inventions that advanced biological measurement techniques. 

2024 HFSP Nakasone Award


The call for nominations for the 2024 HFSP Nakasone Award is now open

The global scientific community is invited to submit nominations for the 2024 HFSP Nakasone Award.

For that purpose, please use the Nomination Form and submit it with the Candidate's CV by e-mail to

Nominations Deadline: 9 October 2023 (1pm CEST) 

deadline extended


The winner(s) will receive a small unrestricted research grant of 15,000 USD, a commemorative medal, a certificate and will deliver the HFSP Nakasone Lecture at the 2024 HFSP Awardees Meeting.

Nominations & Criteria

Any scientist interested in HFSP is welcome to respond to the open call and nominate candidates for the HFSP Nakasone Award. Both the nominator(s) and the nominee(s) may be from any country. HFSP is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion and particularly encourages nominations of scientists who are women, early career researchers, individuals who are ethnically and/or racially under-represented in the scientific enterprise, and those who hail from equity-seeking countries.

A nomination may be for a single person, or up to two scientists for the same award. These scientists should be co-authors on breakthrough publications or collaborators of key discoveries. Coordinated, multiple nominations for a candidate(s) will be considered as a single nomination and will be merged for the purpose of the review. Self-nominations are not accepted. Members of the HFSPO Board of Trustees and Council of Scientists (COS) are not eligible for nomination and may not nominate candidates to avoid the perception of conflict of interest. 1

Nominations for the 2024 award are now open and must be received by HFSP before 9 October 2023 at 1pm CEST A list of former winners is on the tab HFSP Nakasone Awardees. The COS conducts the selection process and the winners will be chosen during the COS meeting in December 2023.

Selection procedure

The Council of Scientists is responsible for selecting the HFSP Nakasone Award winner(s and recommending the annual winner(s) to the HFSPO Board of Trustees, which is ultimately responsible for approving the award. The selection process is as follows:

1. Council members receive all nominations and conduct an initial assessment. Members are briefed about HFSPO’s rules and regulations in guiding their initial decision making. Each Councillor can recommend six nominations for further consideration.

2. A first ranking is established based on the number of times a nomination is listed by Council members. This initial ranking enables the Council to further consider nominations for female scientists or for scientists from countries that previously have been under-represented in the HFSP Nakasone Award.

3. The Chair and Vice Chairs of the Council then decide on a short list that determines the number of nominations for the final assessment.

4. Nominations are then assigned to two members of the Council for a final evaluation. Members are asked to prepare short written comments to support their evaluation.

5. At the annual meeting, Council rapporteurs present their assigned nominations by highlighting the scientific merits as outlined in the call for nominations.

6. A member of the HFSPO Board of Trustees follows the discussion of the Council as an independent ex officio observer.

7. Following discussion, Council members vote on all shortlisted nominations. The nomination with the highest number of votes is declared the winner(s).

8. The Secretariat, on behalf of the Council Chair, then prepares a recommendation of the winner (s), including a written statement by the observer, which is submitted for approval by the Board of Trustees.