The UK Medical Research Council (MRC) hosted an intergovernmental conference to set out a new, three-year budgetary framework for the International Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSPO), the only truly global program funding frontier research in the life sciences.
Despite difficult financial circumstances faced by many HFSPO members, the conference announced a financial framework for the 2017-2019 period that represents a net increase from the current annual budget of about 56 million USD. "This should permit the program to maintain its uniqueness in supporting innovative, cutting-edge and high-risk research, while promoting international collaboration in the spirit of science without borders," said Mark Palmer of the UK Medical Research Council who chaired the meeting. "Since its inception in 1989, HFSP has supported some 5800 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 help many more. HFSP also responds to the needs of governments wishing to promote frontier research as a springboard to innovation."
The conference encouraged the HFSPO 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 program. This was welcomed by the Organization's Secretary-General, Prof. Warwick Anderson who commented that "The Human Frontier Science Program was to support scientists working together including mathematicians, physicists, chemists and engineers. These fields are now essential to gaining new knowledge in the life sciences, about life itself. This is the future of science: international cooperation for the benefit of all humankind - the principle upon which HFSPO was founded. Science can't solve all human problems, but none can be solved without science."
The HFSPO 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, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
A Joint Communiqué setting out the financial contributions will be published on the HFSP website.
The Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) 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 two countries. Competition is tough with only about 1 in 20 applicants being successful. Previous grant holders have gone on to win 26 Nobel prizes.