Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) 2020 Research Grants


Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) 

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


HFSP 2020 Research Grants

For More Information

Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) 2020 Research Grants

Program guidelines, tips for writing letters of intent and Frequently Asked Questions are available at the following links:

Call for letters of intent

Scientific elements required for the letter of intent

Guidelines for Applicants



Research grants are provided for teams of scientists from different countries who wish to combine their expertise in innovative approaches to questions that could not be answered by individual laboratories.  The research teams must be international, and be conducting basic research.

The Principal Applicant must be from one of the eligible countries.  However, other participating scientists and laboratories may be situated anywhere in the world.

Emphasis is placed on novel collaborations that bring together scientists preferably from different disciplines (e.g. from chemistry, physics, computer science, engineering) to focus on problems in the life sciences.  Applied applications, including medical research typically funded by national medical research bodies, will be deemed ineligible.

Two types of Research Grants are available:

  1. Young Investigators' Grants are 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 are 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. Up to $450,000 per grant per year may be applied for. Applications including independent investigators early in their careers are encouraged.


To be eligible for this Research Grant:

  • The Principal Applicant must be from a non-profit academic institution and have a laboratory in the eligible countries. Co-Applicants can be located in any country.
  • All team members are expected to direct a research group (however small) and must have a doctoral degree (PhD, MD or equivalent).
  • Applicants are expected to develop new lines of research through the collaboration. Thus, projects must be distinct from applicants’ other research funded by other sources.
  • The collaboration between all team members must be be absolutely necessary to achieve the aims of the project. “Concerted action” programs, in which each team member performs a self-contained project under a general theme without extensive interaction with the other team members are not considered to be collaborative. 

Projects that are ineligible for funding include:

  • Projects of a purely applied nature.
  • Research aimed at developing novel methods or the study of analogs or models of biological activity unless these methods allow new biological questions to be answered in the context of the aim of the HFSP to fund fundamental research.
  • Observational projects or systematic screening approaches.
  • Large-scale data collection as such, unless there is a convincing rationale for the collection and detailed methodology for the data analysis; this includes the systematic multi-species-omic analyses of populations or ecosystems, which do not address a fundamental biological question of general interest. However, studies of the mechanisms of species-species interactions or their co-evolution are eligible. 
  •  Research in for-profit environments (but collaborations are allowed).

Maximum Project Value

Based on the current funding model*, grants are awarded on a per year basis for a period of three (3) years follows:

  • $250,000 for a team of 2;
  • $350,000 for a team of 3;
  • $450,000 for a team of 4 or more.

Two members from the same country will be considered as a single team member for the purposes of calculating the award, unless they constitute an interdisciplinary collaboration in which case they will be awarded an amount equivalent to 1.5 team members (currently $300,000 for a team of ‘2.5’ and $400,000 for ‘3.5’ team members). 

In the case of a two-member team with one member in a for-profit institution, the total annual award will be reduced to $125,000. In other cases the for-profit member will not be included when calculating the amount of the award.

 *subject to revision before full applications are invited

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

Teams must initiate an application and obtain a 2020 reference number via the HFSP Extranet

If you are invited to the Full Application stage, please notify the Office of Research Services immediately at

The Internal Deadline for the Full Application will be one (1) week before the External Deadline.

External Deadline

The deadline for the direct submission of letters of intent via the Extranet

How to Apply

Applicants must first obtain a 2020 reference number (LIXXXXXX/2020) via HFSP Extranet.

Applicants must then submit letters of intent directly to HFSP via the Extranet.

Should your team be invited to submit a full application, please contact the Office of Research immediately at

For Questions, please contact

For specific enquiries please contact

Office of Research

Amy Bossaer, Senior Grants and Contracts Specialist
Office of Research Services
519-824-4120 x58613

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