Human Frontier Science Program 2021 Research Grants


Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) 

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) is a contributor to the HFSP.


Two types of Research Grants are available through the Human Frontier Science Program 2021 Research Grants:

1. Youth Investigators: Awarded to teams of researchers, all of whom are within the first five years after obtaining an independent laboratory (e.g. Assistant Professor, Lecturer or equivalent). Applications for Young Investigators' Grants will be reviewed in competition with each other independently of applications for Program Grants.

2. Program Grants: Awarded to teams of independent researchers at any stage of their careers. The research team is expected to develop new lines of research through the collaboration. Applications including independent investigators early in their careers are encouraged

For More Information

Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) 2021 Research Grants


The Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) supports innovative basic research into fundamental biological problems that applies novel and interdisciplinary approaches and includes scientific exchanges across national and disciplinary boundaries. 

HFSP research projects extend the frontiers of knowledge. Successful applications will entail risk and aim to develop novel lines of research for each participating partner that must be different from their ongoing research. The participation of scientists from outside the traditional life sciences such as biophysics, chemistry, computational biology, computer science, engineering, mathematics, nanoscience or physics is considered a key requisite in HFSP grant applications.

To stimulate novel, daring ideas and innovative approaches, preliminary results are not required in HFSP research grant applications. Special emphasis is placed on encouraging scientists early in their careers to participate in the Program Grants. Applicants are expected to develop new lines of research through the collaboration. 

Awards are for 3 years and made to international (preferably intercontinental) teams of 2 – 4 members. Research Grants (Program Grants) are for independent scientists at all stages of their careers. Grants are also available for teams of early career researchers (Young Investigator Grants) who are all within 5 years of establishing an independent laboratory and within 10 years of obtaining their PhDs. The amount is dependent upon team size, up to $450,000 per year. The principal applicant must be located in one of the HFSP member countries; co-investigators may be located in any country. 


HFSP Research Grants support teams of independent leaders of research groups. Therefore applications from individual scientists or early career researchers carrying out their postdoctoral or PhD level projects are not eligible.

Young Investigators

  • All members of a Young Investigators’ grant team must be within 5 years of obtaining an independent position (see below) but must have obtained their first doctoral degree (PhD, MD or equivalent) not longer than 10 years before the deadline for submission of the letter of intent. For exceptional circumstances please refer to Section 3.1 of the Application Guidelines.
  • A Young Investigator should be a project leader directing a research group. They must have full responsibility for the day to day running of their laboratories and will have full control of the HFSP funds.
  • Written confirmation may be requested from the Head of Department in the case of an applicant who independently oversees a research theme.

Program Grants

  • All members of a Program Grant team must be in a position to initiate and direct their own independent lines of research.
  • They must have full scientific and financial responsibility for their own laboratories (however small).
  • There are common features for Young Investigators and Program Grants regarding the interdisciplinary team composition. Please refer to Section 3.3 of the Application Guidelines.

In addition to the above special requirements for the Young Investigators’ and Program Grants, there are a number of conditions that must be met by all grant applications concerning:

  • Structure of the team. The research teams must be international. The principal applicant must be from one of the member countries. However, other participating scientists and laboratories may be situated anywhere in the world.
  • Principal Applicant. The Principal Applicant of a Research Grant must have a laboratory in a member country (with the exception of HFSP Career Development Awardees). All team members are expected to direct a research group (however small) and must have a doctoral degree (PhD, MD or equivalent). The HFSP award is not intended to create scientific independence, this is a decision of the research institute prior to the application. Team members must be able to determine the course of the HFSP-funded project and have freedom to administer the grant award.

Additional conditions apply regarding: the institutional affiliations, the number of team members, the country of affiliation, internationality of the team, concurrent applications and new applications from previous grant awardees. The detailed explanations are given in Section 4 of the Application Guidelines.

Maximum Project Value

Awards are dependent upon team size. Awards may be up to a maximum of $450,000 per year (teams of 4 or more)

Indirect Costs


Project Duration

Each grant is awarded for a period of three (3) years.


If College-level review is required, your College will communicate its earlier internal deadlines.

External Deadline

A compulsory initiation of a Letter of Intent by obtaining a LIXXXX/2021 reference number must be obtained by this date (See 'How to Apply' for more information)

External Deadline

Submission of Letter of Intent to HFSP (See 'How to Apply' for more information)

Internal Deadline

Please contact the Office of Research Services at, if your team is invited to the Full Application stage. At that time, a copy of the OR-5, Letter of Intent, Full Application draft, and budget, will need to be submitted to the Office of Research Services, at the internal deadline specified, based on the Full Application deadline outlined by HFSP. 

How to Apply

Applicants are advised to use the quiz on the HFSP website to check their eligibility and to read the instructions carefully. 

Letter of Intent Process

Starting end of January 2020 principal applicants can initiate an application via the HFSP Extranet until March 19, 2020. Submission deadline for the letter of intent is March 30, 2020. 

Please read the guidelines and the document ‘Writing a letter of intent’ carefully to establish whether your project is clearly in tune with the requirements and emphasis of the research grant program. You must first submit a letter of intent to apply for a grant, which must be done online as described below. Scientific elements needed to complete an application are provided here. The main steps in applying are as follows:

1. The research team must designate one member as Principal Applicant, who will be responsible for final submission of the letter of intent. Note the requirement that the Principal Applicant must have his/her primary laboratory in a member country. See Item 4.3. of the guidelines (“Research Teams”) for more detail.

2. In setting up the team, the Principal Applicant must ensure that no team member is a Principal Applicant or Co-Applicant on another proposal (see Item 4.7. in the guidelines). Failure to ensure this will result in all those applications being withdrawn from the competition.

3. The Principal Applicant must obtain a 2021 reference application number on the HFSP extranet site (at the address The Principal Applicant will first have to set up a password (if not already in the HFSP database). This will give access to the online application form and further instructions concerning online submission (including the addition of the other team members). It is essential to obtain a 2021 reference number as soon as the team has seriously decided to submit a letter of intent. Team members can be modified up to the final submission date. An application number must be obtained by March 19th at the latest. Principal applicants already listed in the HFSP database (e.g. those re-applying from last year) must also obtain a 2021 reference number by March 19th.

4. In all cases, the co-applicants must approve their participation via a link generated by the Principal Applicant before the application can be completed and submitted.

5. The letter of intent must be submitted by March 30th 2020. No changes can be made to the letter of intent after final submission.

6. The Principal Applicant will be notified by the beginning of July if the team is invited to submit a full application. The deadline for the full application will be mid - September 2020.


For Questions, please contact

Specific inquiries: 

Office of Research

Kristin Gibson, Awards and Agreements Officer
Office of Research Services
519-824-4120 x56257

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