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Press Release

Brussels conference gives strong endorsement to Human Frontier Science Program

Brussels, 11 June 2013

The European Commission today hosted an intergovernmental conference to set out a new, three-year year budgetary framework for the Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP), the only truly global programme funding frontier research in the life sciences.

Despite difficult financial circumstances faced by many HFSP members, the conference announced a financial framework for the 2014-2016 period that represents a net  increase from the current annual budget of $ 55.7 million. This should permit the programme to maintain its uniqueness in supporting innovative, cutting-edge and high-risk research, while promoting international collaboration in the spirit of science without borders.

"The Human Frontier Science Program has been an inspiration and a model for frontier research funding schemes throughout the world, including our own European Research Council," said Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science. "Since its inception in 1989, HFSP has provided almost 6,500 awards to scientists giving them the opportunity to pursue cutting-edge research at all stages of their career. With today's successful IGC conclusion it will be able to support many more. HFSP also responds to the needs of governments wishing to promote frontier research as a springboard to innovation".

The conference encouraged the HFSP to actively pursue the broadening of its membership to new countries in reflection of the increasingly globalised nature of frontier research and the reputation enjoyed by the programme. In this connection, an open session of the meeting was attended by observers from Brazil, China, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey.

Professor Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker, Secretary General of HFSP said: "This new financial framework will ensure the continuation of HFSP and its highly respected funding schemes for the years 2014-2016. HFSP will endeavour to meet the demands of an ever growing scientific community focused on quantitative approaches to the emergence of higher order functions in biological systems. It will open the door to new member countries interested in permitting their researchers to participate fully in such a unique and highly competitive global effort.

The HFSP was launched by Japan in 1989 as a Group of Seven (G7) initiative. Its membership has since expanded and now includes: Australia, Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

A communiqué setting out the financial contributions will be published on the HFSP website.

Background

The Human Frontier Science Program is an international program of research support implemented by the International Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSPO) based in Strasbourg, France. According to its Statutes, “HFSP aims to promote, through international cooperation, basic research focused on the elucidation of the sophisticated and complex mechanisms of living organisms and to make the fullest possible utilization of the research results for the benefit of all humankind”.

HFSP makes three types of awards solely on the basis of excellence and international peer review. These are: Long-term and Cross-disciplinary Fellowships to help PhD graduates join prestigious laboratories; Career Development Awards to support post-doctoral researchers in setting up their first laboratories; and Research Grants for projects by international research teams from at least three countries. Competition is tough with only about 1 in 10 applicants being successful. Past grant holders have gone on to win 18 Nobel prizes.

Since the start of the program, HFSP has provided 2,943 awards to EU scientists (~46% of all awards) by means of the three programs.

Contact

Michael Jennings, Tel. +322 2963388 Twitter: @ECSpokesScience