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HFSP President and Secretary-General Welcome South Africa to Global Frontier Life Science Organization

HFSP welcomed South Africa as the newest Member country to join the International Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSP)

HFSP welcomes South Africa

“My wholehearted welcome to South Africa as a full member of HFSP! We are excited and privileged to have South Africa engaging with our unique organization, and very much look forward to rapidly expanding our collaboration to harness the best of frontier life science for the benefit of South Africa and of the African continent,” said Kabat.

“South African scientists have already participated successfully in HFSP programs in recent years, and we are excited that South Africa will now take an active role in participating and developing the program. The outstanding quality and support of life science research in South Africa will ensure that its scientists make major contributions to the science supported by HFSP,” said Nagata.

The announcement today comes following the endorsement by the HFSPO Board of Trustees. Discussion was held in December during the BOT meeting with formal letters of acceptance concluding in late January. South Africa is the first African country to join HFSP.

Membership offers South Africa significant benefits as HFSP is the premiere global organization that funds top research grants and fellowships in frontier life science for scientists and postdoctoral researchers launching their careers. Specifically, South Africa will have representation on the Board of Trustees, the Council of Scientists, and the Review Committees that select the best proposals for science and fellowships. South African researchers will now be able to serve as Principal Investigators on research grant teams and early career scientists will be able to apply for a fellowship in a host lab anywhere in the world. Researchers of non-member countries are only permitted to join teams hosted by Member countries.

Fulufhelo Nelwamondo, CEO of the National Research Foundation of South Africa, responded enthusiastically: “This membership will be instrumental in ensuring that Africa becomes globally competitive in frontiers research relating to life sciences, thereby promoting innovation and a transformed research system.”

HFSP is the only international organization that funds research grants and fellowships specifically for cutting-edge basic research for which there are no preliminary studies or data. We assume that failure may ensue, but we’re willing to take high risks for the possibility of high rewards. This is how we define frontier life science research, and this is what we fund. Also, all HFSP programs are fully internationally collaborative, which provides access for researchers to participate in, and contribute to, the most advanced thinking from the world’s most brilliant minds working on the newest frontiers of the life sciences.

Glenda Gray, President and CEO of South African Medical Research Council, added, “This partnership will have a fundamental impact on building South Africa’s capacity and global influence in life sciences for the greater benefit of society.”

Since the organization’s inception in 1989, 28 HFSP-supported scientists have gone on to win Nobel Prizes in just over 30 years. HFSP scientists regularly win other top international awards as their breakthrough investigations pioneer new knowledge in the life sciences. Membership for South Africa will become effective immediately and researchers and fellowship candidates will be able to apply this spring for 2024 awards.

“The accession of South Africa to HFSPO will strengthen the global presence of our Organization,” said Kabat, “and we will honor the growing scientific strength, diversity and inclusiveness of scientific research in the country, and support the successful efforts for innovation and capacity building.”


The Human Frontier Science Program was founded in 1989 to advance international research and training at the frontier of the life sciences. Its aims are to promote intercontinental collaboration and training in cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research focused on the life sciences. HFSP receives financial support from the governments or research councils of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, the UK, the USA, as well as from the European Commission. With its collaborative research grants and postdoctoral fellowships, the program has issued over 4,500 awards involving more than 7,500 scientists from all over the world. Since the beginning of the Program, 28 HFSP awardees have gone on to win the Nobel Prize.


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