Margdarshi Fellowships

This scheme provides a unique opportunity to visionary biomedical scientists to lead and nucleate a cutting edge research programme in India in collaboration with Indian Host Institution(s). The Applicant and the Host Institution(s) are encouraged to make a “synergistic effort” towards establishing a Centre of Excellence that aims to improve the existing scientific breadth and develop new research avenues.

This will provide institutions an opportunity to identify a highly accomplished scientist from within or from any other institution in India or overseas to set up a research programme of their interest. Similarly, interested candidates are encouraged to approach their own institutions or any other institution(s) in India to nucleate a new programme of research using their unique expertise. It is expected that the proposed programme will add value to existing research at the Host Institution in accordance with mutually agreed interests. Institutions are, therefore, expected to demonstrate a strong commitment by proposing robust mechanisms that they will put in place for successful execution of the programme.

Applicants, especially those from outside India, are expected to demonstrate strong integration within the Host Institution. This could, for example, be through an existing engagement, or any other mechanism that demonstrates commitment.

It is essential that the intended programme be conceived in consultation with the Host Institution, and clear evidence of that provided in the application.

The overall goal of the programme is to utilize the expertise of highly accomplished scientists to speed up the development of biomedical research in India.

It is expected that this mechanism will:

  •  Induce scientific leaders to set up partnerships with the Indian biomedical research community.
  •  Provide mentorship and training to students, postdoctoral fellows and junior scientists in cutting-edge biomedical research.
  •  Seed new areas of research within the Indian biomedical research ecosystem.

Framework of the Research Programme and Guidelines

The overarching mandate of the programme is to transform the research environment and capabilities at the Host Institution by identifying new and creative research directions. The Margdarshi Fellow should be the vehicle for establishing a biomedical research programme that is sufficiently different from the ones that already exist at the Host Institution.

The programme must be designed to employ innovative approaches for bringing in new expertise in frontier areas, creating new infrastructure, building collaborative networks and training young scientists. It should be able to provide new impetus to the research environment and must demonstrate the potential to develop into an important center of research. Applicants must also outline their engagement plans with the wider scientific community, and an outreach beyond the scope of their proposed research.

A clear plan must be shared to justify the need for collaboration between the participating elements and the mechanisms that will be put in place to achieve the desired impact.

Two institutions may also come together towards creating a new programme not available in either of the institutions. They should make a concerted effort under the leadership of a visionary scientist, who will lead this initiative and will also be responsible for capitalizing available resources towards developing a cutting edge programme.

The degree of collaboration and the contributions expected of all the components must be outlined in the proposal. It should also state how the integration of resources and expertise will enhance scientific understanding that would otherwise not be possible if the participating institutions and individuals worked independently.

It is important that adequate governance procedures must be followed. These include the distribution of funds, data management, resource sharing and ownership of the data generated out of the proposed initiative.

The Fellowship is for FIVE years, and provides:

  •  Generous personal support for the Fellow
  •  Salary support for personnel, which may include Assistant Professors
  •  Equipment and supplies (including animals, if required)
  •  Funds to attend scientific meetings, support collaborative visits and organize meetings
  •  Overheads for the Host Institution (to be added by the Office)

Time Commitment: flexibility to maintain dual appointment

It is not mandatory for the Applicant to commit 100% of their time towards the Margdarshi programme. They will be expected to make a sensible commitment that satisfies the scientific, administrative, mentoring and team building requirements of the programme. This flexibility on time commitment has been introduced to allow highly successful scientists to continue with their other position/commitments at the parent institution, in parallel.

In cases where the Applicant will continue to hold the previous position at an institution within India or overseas, the parent institution as well as the Host Institution will be required to communicate the following:

  1. Agreement to the dual appointment of the Applicant
  2. Confirmation of the time distribution proposed by the Applicant
  3. Level of engagement with the Applicant during the Fellowship tenure and beyond
  4. Status of the personal support (salary) of the Applicant
  5. Plans to establish a long-term collaboration between the two institutions and potential benefits of this partnership

The document should be submitted on an official letterhead duly signed and dated by the leadership of the institutions, if different from the sponsor.

The Applicants are expected to coordinate with the parent as well as the proposed host institution for submitting these details to the India Alliance. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that these documents are submitted by the deadline given in the application form, failing which the application will be considered incomplete and will not be processed further.

Relocation

Relocation from the current institution to a new Host Institution is no longer required to apply for the Margdarshi Fellowship. However, candidates who are currently located outside India must propose a Host Institution within India where the Margdarshi programme will be based. This change was implemented in the year 2014-15. Applicants must however outline their engagement plans with the wider scientific community, and an outreach beyond the scope of their proposed research.

Budget allocation

India Alliance has not set a cap for the Margdarshi Fellowship scheme. Instead, Applicants are requested to share an estimate of their budgetary requirements from the pool of funds, which India Alliance will earmark exclusively for the Margdarshi Fellowship and which may vary from one year to the other. For 2016-17, INR 15 Crore (~ USD 2.2 million; GBP 1.5 million) has been allocated for the Margdarshi programme.

This option provides flexibility to request funds as per the requirements of the proposed programme, within the total ceiling in a given year. The Margdarshi Fellowship Committee will decide the number of Fellowships to be awarded in a given year and the final budget for each programme based on the quality of the cohort and individual applications.

Applicants would be expected to decide their requirement of funds on their own and the office will not be able to make any suggestions in this regard. Costs requested by the Applicant should be commensurate with their proposed programme and should be fully justified in the application. Inadequate justifications are likely to result in poor review of the application and/or costs being revised.
The budget includes the costs requested by the Applicant and the Host Institution, as well as India Alliance’s contributions towards the Fellow’s personal support and institutional overhead charges.

Applicants are required to submit a detailed budget with suitable justifications, which is prepared in consultation with the Host Institution.

Applicants would be expected to be running an independent laboratory for at least 10 years and have an outstanding scientific record.

Eligible candidates should have:

  •  Demonstrated leadership skills
  •  Made significant and outstanding contributions in biomedical research
  •  Mentored young scientists and students
  •  Attracted extramural funds from peer-reviewed competitive sources
  •  Established important national and international collaborations
  •  Maintained high ethical standards of research and financial management

Candidates of all nationalities and origins are eligible to apply if they are pursuing or intend to pursue research at an institution in India.

There is no age limit to apply for the Fellowship. However, Applicants should not use this scheme to propose a post-retirement settlement plan.

To be eligible, an Applicant must be sponsored by a ‘not-for-profit’ Host Institution located in India. This scheme provides the flexibility of choosing two Host Institutions. For more details on the institution’s eligibility, please refer to http://wellcomedbt.org/remit-and-eligibility.

It is not mandatory for the Applicant to hold a confirmed appointment at the Host Institution. A long-term commitment will, however, be important to foresee the impact the partnership proposed through the Margdarshi Fellowship programme.

To ascertain the level of coordination, collaboration and integration between the stakeholders as desired by the mandate of the Margdarshi Fellowship programme, the Applicant and the Sponsor(s) are required to submit a joint application by the announced deadline. No exceptions to this deadline will be made.

It is mandatory to have a Sponsor at an eligible Host Institution in India at the time of application. The following points will aid Host Institutions that are considering hosting Margdarshi Fellows.

A Margdarshi Fellow will enhance the Host Institution's recognition and reach by -

  •  Attracting high-caliber scientists, scholars and students to build inter-disciplinary teams
  •  Developing infrastructure and drawing additional funding support
  •  Identifying and establishing a new area of research, which may have the potential to change the landscape of research at the Host Institution

An eligible Sponsor is expected to hold a senior administrative position (e.g. Directors/HoD) at the Host Institution.

The Host Institution/Sponsor(s) are expected to identify suitable candidate and/or select the candidate interested in applying to the Margdarshi Fellowship, based on their mutual interests. It is mandatory for the Sponsor(s) to be involved in the process of conceptualizing the project.

Two institutions may also propose a joint programme under the leadership of a leading scientist. In this case, the partnering institutions will be termed as the Primary Host Institution and the Secondary Host Institution. Both the Sponsors will have to fill the online consent form. The Primary Institution is the one which will be responsible for

  •  Hosting the Fellow
  •  Administering the Fellowship and
  •  Accommodating the major part of the programme

The Sponsor(s) is expected to explain

 •  How the Applicant's research interests and scientific leadership will enhance the research programme at the Host Institution
 •  Details of the area in which they wish to diversify their ongoing programme and the rationale for venturing into that area
 •  The extent to which the proposed programme is a new development
 •  Type of support and commitment the Host Institution is willing to make if the Fellowship were to be awarded
 •  How the inter-institutional link will benefit the programme and details of the benefits accrued to respective institutions

The Sponsor(s) will have to fill a separate online Sponsorship Form, which will be made available through the IASys.

An invitation to the next level of the competition will be contingent upon a successful review of the joint application made by the Applicant and the Sponsor.

Sponsors may send multiple nominations from their institution.

To apply, the Applicant and the Sponsor(s) should submit a Joint application on IASys. This application includes:

Application Form: The Applicant is responsible for creating an application using the online form available on IASys. The Lead Applicant will complete the application form and also invite Sponsor(s) on the application. This leads to creation of separate Sponsorship forms.

Sponsorship Form: The Lead Applicant and the Sponsor submit their respective forms individually. However, submission of Lead Applicant's form is contingent upon successful submission of the Sponsorship Form by the Sponsor. It is therefore important for the Sponsorship Form to be submitted within the specified deadline to allow the Lead Applicant to complete the process of submission. If there is more than one institution participating in the programme, both the Primary and the Secondary Sponsors will fill in their respective Sponsorship forms, which will be made available to the Sponsor(s) by the Applicant through IASys. The Sponsor form(s) must be filled in by the Sponsor and not by the Applicant. A breach of confidentiality on this matter will disqualify the Applicant.

Consent Form: The Sponsor should confirm their willingness by filling in the consent form. If there is more than one institution participating in the programme, both the Sponsors should upload their individual consent forms on the system. A format is included in the application form.

The Applicant and the Sponsor(s) at the Host Institution will be required to explain (1) their strategic thinking and conceptualization of the proposed programme, (2) how the Applicant’s experience, knowledge and reputation in the field of interest will help in introducing a new programme at the Host Institution, (3) the support committed by the Host Institution to achieve the desired impact, and (4) the expected short-term and long-term outcomes.

It will be necessary to demonstrate how this Fellowship will pave way for establishing a larger programme in future and opening new avenues for other researchers. Applicants should also outline their engagement plans with the wider scientific community, and an outreach beyond the scope of their proposed research.

It is not mandatory for Applicants who are already pursuing research in India to relocate to another institution. However, if the programme necessitates relocation, interested Applicants can do so. In such cases, Applicants will have to detail the reasons for leaving their current institution and how the proposed relocation will augment their scientific activities and enhance research activities at the proposed institution.

The Lead Applicant and the Sponsor/Host Institution(s) will be required to fill online Forms, which will be made available through IASys, the India Alliance online application portal. Deadlines communicated in advance will be strictly enforced.

A format of the Sponsor’s consent form is included in the application form. The form has to be signed, dated and issued on Sponsor’s official letterhead. The Sponsor must upload this form through IASys. If there are two Sponsors, both of them will be required to upload their respective consent forms. Please note that a completed consent form is mandatory for the application to be considered in the competition.

An invitation to the next level of the competition will be contingent upon a successful review of the joint application made by the Applicant and the Sponsor(s).

Evaluation process

The joint application will be reviewed by the Margdarshi Selection Committee of India Alliance to assess the eligibility, remit and competitiveness. The review process primarily evaluates Applicant’s track record in the proposed area, resources available at the Host Institution, concept of the proposed programme, its potential to create new directions of research at the Host Institution, the extent to which it is a new development, involvement of Sponsor/Host Institution and their commitment to assess the feasibility of the programme.

Those applications found suitable by the Margdarshi Selection Committee will be sent out for an external review following which there will be an interview with the Margdarshi Selection Committee. This Committee will be the final decision-making body for the award.

Fellowships must be started within one year of the award.

Notes:

1. Applicants may suggest to India Alliance the names of potential reviewers as also names of individuals to be excluded from the review. However, the choice of reviewers will rest with India Alliance and will not be disclosed to the Applicant.

2. Applicants are reminded that this is a competition and the decision of India Alliance will be final. Applicants are not allowed to write directly to Margdarshi Selection Committee members. India Alliance reserves the right to disqualify an Applicant who has breached this condition.

Resubmission Policy

  •  Regardless of previous applications to the India Alliance, all applicants have to make a fresh application to every competition.
  •  If an applicant is not short-listed for interview, he/she may apply to the scheme again, subject to meeting the prevailing eligibility criteria.
  •  If the applicant has been interviewed by the India Alliance’s Selection Committee and was unsuccessful, the applicant may not re-apply to the scheme. Therefore, it is very important for applicants to carefully consider the timing of their application.
  •  Please note that one may not apply to a scheme that is junior to his/her first full application to the India Alliance. If an application for Margdarshi Fellowship was considered and the applicant was interviewed by the Selection Committee in the past, irrespective of the decision at the interview stage, the Office will not consider an application for Senior/ Intermediate/Early Career Fellowship from the same applicant.

Dual Fellowship Policy

You may apply even if you already hold another Fellowship. However, please note that if awarded, you will be required to make a choice between your current Fellowship and the India Alliance Fellowship.

Costing Policy

  •  India Alliance has not set a cap for the Margdarshi Fellowship scheme. Every year, the Alliance earmarks a pool of funds and the applicants are requested to share their budgetary requirements. The total costs have to be within the cap set for that particular year.
  •  A part of the applicant’s personal support must be contributed by the India Alliance. It is therefore important that this factor must be taken into account while requesting the budget.
  •  India Alliance contributions such as Travel to Meetings or Flexible Funding Allowance are not provided on a Margdarshi application. These need to be factored in the cost requested by the applicant.
  •  The total budget on an application includes the research cost requested, personal support for the Fellow and 10% institutional overheads. The personal support and 10% overheads are added by the office. The total budget on the application should be within the budget allocated for the particular round.

Please find overview of the application process and associated timelines here. Note: the timelines are to aid applicants to plan their application appropriately. India Alliance reserves the right to modify competition timelines for operational convenience.

Applications under process, tentative launch date for next competition : February 2017

Contact Us

Queries should be sent to margdarshi@wellcomedbt.org