SA admitted to the International Human Frontier Science Program

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

South Africa has been admitted as a member of the International Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) following a competitive application process.

The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) will serve as joint institutional members. 

The HFSP promotes international collaboration in basic research focused on elucidating the sophisticated and complex mechanisms of living organisms.

South Africa is the 16th country to be admitted, and the only country from Africa.

According to the NRF, this membership underscores the value South Africa places on supporting fundamental research in understanding complex mechanisms in the life sciences to advance industry, health, and human well-being.

“As a member, South Africa will work closely with other HFSP members to support innovative basic research; apply novel and interdisciplinary approaches; and enable scientific exchanges across national and disciplinary boundaries to address fundamental biological problems.”

Furthermore, membership is said to significantly contribute to the research and education programmes supported by the NRF and the SAMRC.

Through joint programming with partners, South Africa will increase its vital scientific and innovation skills development through unique research and training programmes in basic sciences, with specific emphasis on generating outcomes that have a direct socio-economic impact and thereby benefit to society.  

“This membership will be instrumental in ensuring that Africa becomes globally competitive in frontiers research relating to life sciences, thereby promoting innovation and a transformed research system,” stated NRF CEO, Dr Fulufhelo Nelwamondo.

The SAMRC President and CEO, Professor Glenda Gray, added: “This partnership will have a fundamental impact on building South Africa’s capacity and global influence in life sciences for the greater benefit of society”.

The HFSP was founded in 1989 to advance international research and training at the frontier of the life sciences.

The HFSP funds high-risk, interdisciplinary, intercontinental, collaborative, fundamental life science research, with a philosophy of “science without borders”.

It encourages innovative and novel thinking to support transformative and paradigm-shifting research.

With its collaborative research grants and postdoctoral fellowships, the programme has issued over 4 500 awards involving more than 7 500 scientists from all over the world.

Since its inception, 28 HFSP awardees and four Nakasone Award winners have gone on to win the Nobel Prize. –