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Margdarshi Fellowship

The format of the India Alliance Margdarshi Fellowship scheme has recently undergone a major revision. Significant changes have been made to broaden its scope. A summary of the changes is provided here.

The application forms will now be available online on IASys when the competition is open. Application are currently under process for the 2014 competition

Eligibility condition: relocation requirement removed

The eligibility requirement of relocation will no longer be applicable to future rounds and interested candidates will be allowed to apply from the institution where they are currently located. However, relocation will remain a prerequisite for the candidates applying from abroad as the program must be based at a host institution in India.

Nature of the scheme: Modified

This program requires a “synergistic effort” between the host institution and a senior scientist with an exemplary track record in the given field.

The host institution and the potential candidates are encouraged to make a joint effort towards establishing a center of excellence. It is envisaged that this synergy will be effective in opening new opportunities for realizing their common vision.

By using the expertise of a visionary scientist, this scheme can be used to build institutional capacity and to establish inter-institutional links towards creating a new research program.

This will provide institutions an opportunity to identify a highly accomplished scientist from within or from any other institution in India or abroad to set up a research program of their interest.

Similarly, interested candidates are encouraged to approach their own institutions or any other institution in India to nucleate a new program of research using their unique expertise. It is expected that their specialty/domain of research/discipline should be channelized to add/diversify the existing structure of 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 program.

It is expected that:

This mechanism will facilitate increased participation from the host institutions.

This program will provide new opportunities to institutions and individuals interested in creating new directions for their programs.

Framework of the research program: Guidelines

The overarching mandate of the program should be to transform the research environment and capabilities at the host institution by identifying new and creative research directions. The participating scientist should be the vehicle for establishing a biomedical research program that is sufficiently different from the ones that exist at the host institution.

The program 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 a new impetus to the research environment and must demonstrate the potential to develop into an important center of research in the proposed field for the wider scientific community.

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 program 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 the available resources towards developing a cutting edge program.

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/collaborators worked independently.

It is important that correct 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.

Purpose

The Margdarshi Fellowship is an opportunity for visionary biomedical scientists to lead and nucleate a cutting edge research program in India in collaboration with a host institution.

This scheme is for host institutions that are keen to improve their scientific breadth and for scientific leaders who already lead their own research group, and now wish to utilize their experience in developing new research platforms.

The overarching mandate of the program should be to transform the research environment at the host institution by identifying new and creative directions of research and to enhance research capabilities at the participating host institution by transferring skills in the thrust area identified by the stakeholders.

The potential Margdarshi Fellow should be the vehicle for establishing a biomedical research program that is sufficiently different from the ones that exist at the host institution. The underlying philosophy in launching this Fellowship is to replicate global standards of scientific excellence, and minimize disparities in scientific and administrative capacity, among research institutes and universities across India.

Provisions

The Fellowship is for five years, and provides:

•  Generous personal support for the Fellow
•  Salary support for personnel, which may include Assistant Professors
•  Equipment, animals and consumables
•  Funds to attend scientific gatherings, for collaborative visits and to organize meetings
•  Overheads for the host institution

Typically, the upper limit for an award will be INR 10 Crores.

This includes the costs requested by the applicant and the host institution, as well as the India Alliance’s contributions on the Fellow’s personal support and institutional overhead charges.

Costs requested by the applicant should be commensurate with their proposed program and should be fully justified in the application. Inadequate justifications may result in costs being revised.

Detailed budgets are not required at the time of application. However, if short-listed, the India Alliance will seek a detailed justified budget from the applicant prepared in consultation with the host institution.


Eligibility

Candidates

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

There is no age limit to apply for this Fellowship. Applicants would normally be expected to be running an independent laboratory for 10 years or more, and have a strong scientific record.

Clinicians and Public Health Researchers, with equivalent qualifications and experience, are also eligible to apply.

The following attributes would be expected of eligible candidates:

•  Demonstrated leadership skills
•  Made significant contributions in research
•  Mentored young scientists and students
•  Attracted extra mural funds from peer-reviewed competitive sources
•  Established collaborations
•  Successfully initiated programmes of advanced scientific research
•  Maintained high ethical standards

It is not essential for the candidate to have a confirmed position at the host institution. A long-term commitment will however be desirable to foresee the impact of synergistic effort that the applicant and the host institution propose to undertake through this fellowship program.

To be eligible as an applicant; he/she must be sponsored by the host institution.

It is essential that the intendedprogram must be conceived in consultation with and under the supervision of the host institution/Sponsor(s).

To ascertain the level of coordination, collaboration and integration between the stakeholders as desired by The mandate of this Fellowship program, the lead applicant and the Sponsor(s) are required to submit a joint application by the due deadline. This application includes:

• Joint concept note by applicant and Sponsor(s)
• Applicant form
• Sponsorship form(s)
• Consent form by Sponsor(s)

The applicant and the Sponsor(s) would have to write a concept note jointly explaining their strategic thinking behind conceptualizing the proposed program, how the applicant’s knowledge, experience and reputation in the field of interest would help in introducing a new program at the host institution, and what sort of support the host institution commit to ensure that the desired impact is achieved. The concept note must be included under the relevant section of the application form by the candidate.

It is necessary to demonstrate howthis Fellowship will pave the way for establishing a larger program in future and open new avenues for other researchers.

Expected/desiredoutcomes (long term and short term) of the program must be detailed in the concept note.

It is not mandatory for those candidates who are already pursuing research in India to relocate to another institution. However, if the program necessitates relocation, interested applicants can relocate to a different institution within India with a vision to lead a vibrant group of young scientists and collaborators.

Applicants would 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 fillonline Forms, which will be made available through the IASys by the due deadline.

A format of the Sponsor’s consent form is included in the application form. The Sponsor at the host institution must upload the consent form on the online system. If there are two Sponsors, both of them will be required to upload their consent forms on the system. Please note that a consent form is mandatory to consider the application in the competition.

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

Sponsor(s)

It is mandatory to have a Sponsor at an eligible Host Institution in India at the time of application.

Important points to be considered for making a decision regarding hosting a Margdarshi Fellow:

» A Margdarshi Fellow will enhance the host institution's recognition and reach by:

     • Attracting high-calibre 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 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 the 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 program under the leadership of a leading scientist. In this case, the partnering institutions will be termed as the primary host institution and the supporting host institution. Both the sponsors will have to fill the consent form available on the system. The primary institution is the one which will be responsible for:

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

In addition, a concept note is mandatory at the initial stage, which the sponsor(s) is, expected to write jointly with the lead applicant. This should explain:

 • How the applicant's research interests and scientific leadership will enhance the research program at the host institution
Details of the area in which they wish to diversify their ongoing program and the rationale for venturing into field
The extent to which the proposed program 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 program and the details of the benefits accrued to the respective institutions











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

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

Sponsors are not restricted from sending multiple nominations from their institution.

Application Process

Applicants are encouraged to contact India Alliance at margdarshi@wellcomedbt.org, with their CV and details of the plans, to be advised of their suitability for the Fellowship.

To apply, the Sponsor(s) and the applicant should submit a Joint Application. This application includes:

A Concept note: Lead applicant and the Sponsor (s) should submit a Joint Concept note. The applicant should upload the concept note under the relevant section of the application form.

Applicant form: Applicant is responsible for creating the application using the online form available on the IASys.The lead applicant will complete the application form and also invite Sponsor(s) on the application. This leads to creation of a separate sponsorship form.

The application forms will now be available online on IASys when the competition is open. Application are currently under process for the 2014 competition

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 that the Sponsor must submit the sponsorship form 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 program,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.

The concept note and the joint application form will be reviewed by the India Alliance Margdarshi Selection Committee 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 program, 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 program.

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

Those applications found suitable by the Margdarshi Selection Committee will be short-listed for further consideration.

If short-listed, the India Alliance will inform the applicants and seek a detailed justified budget from the applicant, prepared in consultation with the Sponsor.

Please note that the Sponsor form has to be filled in by the Sponsor and not by the applicant. A breach of confidentiality on this matter will disqualify the applicant.

Applications of short-listed candidates will be sent out for an international peer review to experts in the broad area of the applicant’s field of research. ----> Applications of shortlisted candidates will be subjected to international peer review.

Note:Applicants may suggest names of potential reviewers and names of individuals to be excluded from the review. However, the choice of reviewers will rest with the Office and will not be disclosed to the applicant.

All the applicants short-listed after the peer review will be invited to an interview with the Margdarshi Selection Committee, which will be the final decision-making body for the award.

Fellowships must be started within one year of the award.

Note: Applicants are reminded that this is a competition and the India Alliance’s decision will be final. Applicants are not allowed to write directly to Margdarshi Selection Committee members. The Office withholds the right to disqualify an applicant who has breached this condition.

Deadlines

This is an annual competition

Current Competition
Launch: 15 January 2014
Application Deadline: 4 April 2014
Interview: November 2014
Recently Awarded Margdarshi Fellows

Professor Vaskar Saha
Tata Medical Center, Kolkata


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