Applying for The Young Investigator Programme at NCBS

The Young Investigator Programme (YIP) is for exceptionally talented, young scientists (referred to informally as YIPs) who wish to establish themselves rapidly as independent researchers. Since 2004 when the programme was started, NCBS has hosted several YIPs, many of whom have moved on to independent faculty positions.

1. What positions are available

NCBS would like to have at least 7 YIPs at steady state, and is keen on making at least one new YIP appointment a year. Salary and benefits will be attractive. Accommodation, at nominal rent, will be provided.

The Young Investigator programme is not a tenure-track programme. However, Young Investigators are also mentored by a Research Advisory Committee whose role and operations are very similar to that of the Tenure Advisory Committee of tenure-track faculty.

The normal course of a Young Investigator appointment is for 3+2+2 years. The initial 3-year appointment is subject to renewal. This decision is made at the end of the third year. If the renewal is not granted then the Young Investigator has another two years before the term runs out. If renewal is given, then the Investigator can continue for up to 7 years.

2. Who can apply

A YIP appointment is a career option for a variety of researchers: those who have only just finished their PhD degree and would like to work independently; young scientists with some post-doctoral experience who would like to explore a specific question; and those who have embarked on a completely new direction early in their career. We encourage approaches that address new questions or take novel paths. There are no targeted specific areas of hiring and we have made appointments in several research areas across biology. We greatly encourage applicants in new disciplines, as the boundaries of biological research expand and intersect with the physical sciences, engineering, and medicine. Indian citizenship is not a prerequisite and international applicants are encouraged to apply.

3. Who should not apply

Applicants who have either had considerable postdoctoral experience (>3 years), or who are already senior independent investigators, are encouraged to apply for faculty positions at NCBS. Applicants whose proposal links very closely with an existing research group at NCBS should consider applying to the 'NCBS Fellows programme'. We do not consider proposals that are primarily high-throughput screening projects with no central scientific hypothesis.

4. When to apply

In general, the earlier the better. Apply with a clear-cut plan for future research; your track record must demonstrate that you possess the requisite intellect, technical capabilities, commitment and potential.

5. How to apply ( Now NCBS is accepting online applications )

Send your CV with a list of all publications, and a 1-2 page summary of your research accomplishments so far. Send reprints of your most significant papers (maximum of five) as soft copies for ready reference. Please also send us a 3-5 page research proposal describing your plans for future research that you plan to pursue over a 5-year period. Ensure that you bring out the importance of your general area of research, and of your specific projects in this context. Remember that your application will be perused by biologists trained in very different fields, so write accordingly. Finally, send the names and addresses (including email) of six referees who are willing and can comment on your application and on your abilities.

6. After you apply

Your application will undergo a preliminary screening along with others and if selected, you will be invited to visit NCBS, and we will write to your referees. You may prompt your referees to send in their letters, but please do ask them to wait for us to contact them since we ask them specific questions about you. Typically, your application will be considered further only after you visit. Your file will be kept active for a year from the date of submission.

7. When you visit

You will not have to undergo a formal interview. You may instead be invited to give a research seminar, and thereafter talk to all faculty members individually. If invited, you should plan on spending at least two days NCBS.

The seminar: Give this the importance it deserves and provide some knowledge on relevant background in the area. We find that excellent talks are given by those who have practiced beforehand. Target your audience well; remember that it will have widely varied backgrounds and you could plan a slightly longer introduction if you feel your work is very different from what an audience at NCBS might be used to listening. Remember that presenting too much data can be counterproductive if you lose the audience early on. Make it obvious that you have not only the ability to produce data, but also the capability to think wisely about it. You have one hour; make the best use of it.

Meetings with individual faculty members: We will schedule a series of meetings with a section of the faculty. The meetings with individual faculty members will be informal and interactive; they will give you a chance to discuss one another’s research interests in more detail. Faculty members will be keen to find out how your experience and research abilities will enrich NCBS.

Meetings with the Dean and/or NCBS Director: Come prepared with a list of all that you would need to get started at NCBS, if you were to be selected. Make sure you have thought about all you need to be productive in as short a time as possible.

8. Funding and start-up at NCBS

NCBS has been rather generous in providing start-up funds for YIPs, and can match funding levels of the best funded laboratories in the world today. With an expanding core infrastructure and the springing up of new institutes with heavy investments in platform technology in our vicinity, we offer an extremely conducive research environment, competitive for you to carry out your research. Selected candidates will be provided all possible support to further their research goals. These include bench space, generous supplies and equipment as required for the project, access to international facilities such as synchrotrons, genomic resources, transgenic resources etc. Salary support for up to two research assistants will be provided during the start-up period. Should post-doctoral fellows or graduate students elect to join the investigator, their salaries will also be supported. (Graduate students or post-doctoral positions are filled by interviews conducted by the faculty. These are fully funded positions, and the candidates may chose to join any investigator’s laboratory.) Investigators will get support to attend one international meeting each year and will be allowed to spend up to three months each year in a laboratory other than NCBS, should their collaborations so require.

9. Then what

Following your visit, and after all your referee reports are in, your application will be looked at closely by an internal committee. Your case will then be presented to and be discussed by the whole faculty. We feel it necessary that the faculty be generally enthusiastic. Upon a positive response from the faculty, your application will be steered through an internal committee and the NCBS Management Board. All this can take a few months, but we inform you soon of the outcome of the faculty deliberations. We aim to deliver a decision to a potential YIP candidate within three months.

Upinder S. Bhalla
Dean, NCBS
dean at ncbs dot res dot in