Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Croucher Senior Medical Research Fellowships in Medicine and Dentistry at Universities in Hong Kong

The primary objective of this scheme is to provide opportunities for scientist employed on clinical teachers’ terms in medicine and dentistry, mainly aged between 40 and 55, to be relieved of all teaching, clinical and administrative duties for a period of either six months or one year to do full-time research.

Applicants who envisage difficulty in complying with the following regulations must not proceed with an application.

Universities are invited to present applications in an annual competitive exercise to the Croucher Foundation Limited (“the Foundation”) under the Senior Medical Research Fellowship scheme towards a deadline of 30th April of the year, or the next working day if 30th April is over a weekend. The awards are on the following terms
• The selected fellow’s university must agree to relieve his/her academic, clinical and administrative responsibilities during the period of fellowship of either six months or one year, as must be agreed upon with the university at an appropriate stage before the award of the grant. In return, the Foundation will reimburse the university up to a certain limit for the actual salary costs of a younger replacement (say up to 35 years of age) employed to take over the fellow’s duties for the period of the fellowship;
• The research during the fellowship should normally be conducted at the applicant’s own university but may be exceptionally done at another university in Hong Kong; fellows who wish to hold the fellowship outside Hong Kong must explicitly make a special case at the time of application, but even in the event of the award of the fellowship, the Foundation will not be responsible for any cost incurred as a result of the fellowship being held outside Hong Kong;

Whilst relieved of all duties, the fellow may however undertake supervision of postgraduate or postdoctoral research students provided that such work contributes directly to his/her research proposed for the fellowship. Since this is exclusively a research fellowship, a recipient under the scheme is not permitted to accept remunerated or voluntary undertakings such as teaching engagements in any academic institution, assuming key office-bearer roles in academic or professional bodies, organising international event, serving on committees of a public nature, participating in industrial project, etc.

The fellowship applicants should be members of staff employed formally on clinical teachers’ terms who are in a position to provide needed expertise, inspiration and leadership in research in their departments/centres in the university, and ready and capable of undertaking collaborative research with other colleagues.

The applicant should clearly specify at the time of making the application the proposed length of the Senior Medical Research Fellowship, which may be six months OR one year. Regardless of the length of the fellowship, however, the Foundation’s reimbursement to the fellow’s employing institution will not exceed the equivalent of six months’ salary and a cash allowance of the type paid by the Hospital Authority to clinical medical staff payable to the replacement for the candidate selected for the award, subject to a limit to be prescribed by the Foundation, which currently stands at HK$154,000 per month, or HK$984,000 (individual award of HK$60,000 included) for the salary budget of the entire award. The Foundation may occasionally give approval to employ more than one replacement within the limit of the budget. The Foundation has no objection to top up arrangements from other sources to help recruitment where appropriate.

In line with the Foundation’s interest in younger scientist, the recipient university should demonstrate efforts in the first instance to recruit a qualified younger academic to be the fellow’s replacement teacher, without compromising the quality of teaching however. Alternatively, a replacement teacher may be a senior researcher from overseas wishing to spend a sabbatical period in Hong Kong. Senior researchers falling into this category may be named “Croucher Visiting Fellows”. By accepting the Foundation’s offer, it is deemed that a university will accept responsibility the remaining costs associated with the replacement teacher other than salary and a cash allowance of the type paid by the Hospital Authority to clinical medical staff. These remaining costs right include full medical cover, other fringe benefits and any form of gratuity normally applicable to regular staff at this level of appointment under the university’s own established practices.

On top of the grant for the replacement teacher, the selected fellow will be offered a grant of HK$60,000 for his/her research work, and use at his/her own discretion for purposes he/she chooses. The fellowship is otherwise not accompanied by further research funding from the Foundation, and therefore the recipient must ensure that financial support for his/her research work during the fellowship year is already available or expected from other sources.

The Foundation does not accept any direct individual applications. All applications must be presented to the Foundation through an authorised office in a university, with endorsement by the head of the university or a senior representative authorised to give the necessary institutional confirmation on the points as required in the last section on the application form. Each university may present only a limited number of applications as agreed upon in advance with the Foundation. The university has absolute internal discretion over which applications are to be forwarded to the Foundation. Applications are evaluated on scientific merits and there is no institutional award quota for award. A university should not present an applicant who has been on its staff for less than three years in a full-time academic position, or those whose employment with the university is either on probation or contract terms for a limited period, at the time of application.

The Foundation may at its absolute discretion invite under strictly confidential cover international peer reviews of the applications, but the Governors of the Foundation will have the final say on the selection. The Foundation will not provide critiques of unsuccessful applications.

Hong Kong Residence Requirement
The source of funding of these awards originates from an endowment by the late Noel Croucher who, in appreciation of a fulfilling life in Hong Kong, wished to reward the Hong Kong people with the fortune he had earned during his 60 years of professional life in Hong Kong and specified that his beneficiaries must be permanent Hong Kong residents. The Governors of the Foundation are morally committed to honour the Founder’s wish, and therefore eligibility of these Senior Medical Research Fellowships is restricted only to holders of a full Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card issued by the Hong Kong SAR Government on which it is explicitly indicated that the holder has the right of abode in Hong Kong. This status must be clearly declared on the application form by the applicant at the time of making the application, and the Foundation reserves the right to request to see the ID Card if necessary.

In the same spirit, in the appointment of replacement teachers, the recipient university should make efforts in the first instance to provide opportunities to young scientists who are permanent Hong Kong residents. Alternatively, a replacement teacher may be a senior researcher from overseas wishing to spend time on sabbatical in Hong Kong to the benefit of both students and faculty. Senior researchers from overseas falling into this category may be named “Croucher Visiting Fellows”. For replacement teachers who fall outside these two categories, a written waiver has to be given by the Foundation in advance of an appointment.

Applications are received by the Foundation only once a year by 30th April (or the next working day if 30th April falls over a weekend). Results will be announced before December, for the successful candidates to be prepared to take up the offer in the following academic year.

Whatever the reason, offers not activated within one year of the actual date of the offer of award will lapse.

Click here to download the application form.

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