2006 Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) awards announced

The International Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSPO) has announced the results of the 2006 competitions for HFSP international research grants, postdoctoral fellowships and career development awards. The prestigious HFSP awards are made after rigorous selection in a global competition.

Two types of research grants are awarded: Young Investigator Grants for teams of scientists who are all within 5 years of obtaining their first independent position and Program grants, which are open to teams of scientists at any stage of their careers. The grants are awarded to international teams and strong preference is given to intercontinental collaborations. Grants are given for a broad range of projects under the umbrella theme of "Complex mechanisms of living organisms", with particular emphasis on cutting-edge projects involving biologists together with researchers from non-biological disciplines such as physics, chemistry, computer science, mathematics or engineering.

This year, 12 Young Investigator grants have been awarded. The Young Investigator grants were particularly successful this year, 5 more being awarded than in 2005. The twenty nine young scientists, working in teams of 2-3 members will receive, for each team member, $110,000 - $125,000 each per year for 3 years. Awardees are from 12 different countries including 3 from Japan, 10 from North America and 12 from Europe.

In addition to the Young Investigator grants, 20 Program Grants, involving 72 scientists have been awarded. The financial conditions of these grants are the same as for the Young Investigators but teams can include members at any stage of their careers.

The HFSP postdoctoral fellowships provide an attractive package for young scientists within 3 years of the PhD degree who wish to broaden their training in a laboratory in another country. A repatriation scheme is built into these fellowships giving awardees considerable flexibility in planning their future careers: Fellows who wish to return to their home countries can use the 3rd year of the 3 year fellowship in a laboratory at home and can defer their return by up to two years if their host supervisor can provide interim funds. This year, 93 Fellowships have been awarded. 83 of these are Long-Term Fellowships for life scientists planning to extend their expertise into another field of biology. In addition, in the second year of the new Cross-Disciplinary Fellowship program for young scientists trained in non-biological disciplines, 10 awards have been made to young researchers with PhDs in physics, chemistry, computer science and engineering. This program is intended to promote interdisciplinary research training at the postdoctoral level in life sciences. Although not attracting as many applicants as the Long-Term Fellowships, the quality of applicants has been especially high. The Long-Term and Cross-Disciplinary Fellows are from 23 different countries and will be receiving training in a total of 15 different countries.

A special feature of the HFSP programs for young scientists electing to return to their home countries after postdoctoral training abroad is the competitive Career Development Award to support them in the critical period of setting up their independent laboratories. This year a record number of these awards have been made to 29 young scientists returning to 14 different home countries to independent research positions. In a move to increase the impact of these start-up awards, the amount has been increased this year from a total of $180,000 spread over two or three years to an award of $100,000 per year for three years.

"The HFSP programs provide a framework of support for talented young scientists during their postdoctoral training and assistance in the move toward independent research careers" comments Torsten Wiesel, Secretary General of the HFSPO. "We are especially pleased this year that two former Long-Term Fellows, who received Career Development Awards on their return to France and Argentina and met at the annual meeting of HFSP awardees, were successful in obtaining a collaborative Young Investigator Grant."

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Full lists of the new awards are available on the HFSP web site at http://www.hfsp.org/awardees/AwardsLatest.php

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. Its aims are to promote intercontinental collaboration and training in cutting-edge, interdisciplinary research focused on the life sciences. HFSPO receives financial support from the governments or research councils of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, UK, USA, as well as from the European Union.


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