GrantsNet Guide to Financing Your Research Exchange in India

Credit: Pallava Bagla

Scientists considering a research experience in India will need to look to their own governments, foundations, and international organizations to fund their work, as the list below demonstrates. The entries include grants for research, but also travel, conference, and lecturer grants that, although not intended for research, can be useful for making connections in India for arranging future collaborations.

The list is not meant to be exhaustive, but it will help you get started. In some of the programs, the deadlines for this year have passed, but most of these opportunities will be offered again. New programs are likely to become available, so check GrantsNet and the Funding News periodically for American funding programs, and the International Grants and Fellowship Index for opportunities for scientists from elsewhere.



Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP)

HFSP supports interdisciplinary, basic life-science research, emphasizing international collaborations that bring biologists together with scientists from fields such as the physical sciences, computer science, and engineering.

In December 2006, HFSP added India as a member country, which makes Indian scientists eligible to participate fully in all HFSP programs. The HFSP’s member countries are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus (E.U. part), the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Scientists from all countries may participate in HFSP’s Research Grant and Fellowship programs (see below).

HFSP Research Grants. Research grants are provided to help teams of scientists from different countries to combine their expertise to approach questions that could not be answered by individual laboratories. The lead scientist in an international grant team must be in one of the member countries. Two types of research grants are offered.

  • Program Grants are awarded to teams of independent researchers at any stage of their careers. The research team is expected to develop new lines of research through the collaboration.

  • Young Investigators' Grants are awarded to teams of researchers, all within the first 5 years after getting an independent laboratory.

HFSP Fellowships. Fellows from member countries may go to host laboratories in any country, but those from non-member countries are restricted to hosts in member countries.

  • Long-Term Fellowships provide young scientists with up to 3 years of postdoctoral research training in a laboratory in another country. The third year of the fellowship can be used either at a lab in the fellow's home country or in the host laboratory.

  • Cross-Disciplinary Fellowships are intended for postdoctoral fellows with a Ph.D. in the physical sciences, chemistry, mathematics, engineering, or computer science who wish to receive training in biology. The conditions are the same as for the Long-Term Fellowships.

  • Short-Term Fellowships enable researchers to move into new areas by learning techniques in use abroad or by establishing new research collaborations. These fellowships can support from 2 weeks to 3 months in a foreign country.

  • Career Development Awards are available to Long-Term Fellows and Cross-Disciplinary Fellows who return to their home country at the end of the fellowship. These awards provide funding for 2 or 3 years.

[Editor's note: The HFSP section reflects updates provided by HFSP on 27 April 2007.]

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Grand Challenges in Global Health Initiative. This initiative, a partnership of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (the largest contributor), Wellcome Trust, and Canadian Institutes of Health Research, funds biomedical research to address health concerns in developing countries. Projects already approved under this initiative tackle problems such as HIV/AIDS, vaccines, nutrition, mosquito control, and diagnostics. The Gates Foundation’s procedures for grant applications require either proposals in response to posted calls or letters of intent for unsolicited proposals.

Academy of Sciences for the Developing World

The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World was known until recently as the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), so many of its programs continue to use its former initials. TWAS funding is reserved for students or postdocs from developing countries.

CSIR-TWAS Fellowship for Postdoctoral Research. With India’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), TWAS offers a number of fellowships for postdocs in CSIR labs.

TWAS-S.N. Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences Postgraduate Fellowships in Physical Sciences. TWAS and the S.N. Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, Kolkata, India, offer five fellowships each year to young foreign scientists pursuing research for a Ph.D. in the physical sciences at the Bose Centre.

DBT-TWAS Biotechnology Fellowships for Postgraduate Studies in India. The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) of India’s Ministry of Science and Technology and TWAS offer fellowships for foreign scholars doing research for a Ph.D. in biotechnology.

IACS-TWAS Postgraduate Fellowships in India. The Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS) in Kolkata, India, and TWAS offer fellowships to young scientists to pursue research toward a Ph.D. in certain fields of natural sciences at the IACS.

Asian Scholarship Foundation

The Asian Scholarship Foundation (ASF), a not-for-profit organization funded by a grant from the Ford Foundation, funds research by young and middle-level scholars in the field of Asian studies--which includes some social sciences--as well as work involving travel to other Asian countries.

Citizens or residents of the following countries are eligible for ASF grants: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, the Republic of Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan

The Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan is available to nationals of countries in the British Commonwealth to encourage mobility and opportunities for scholars. There is no central resource or funding agency. Each country decides the eligibility criteria and programs. Participating countries include Australia, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Cameroon, Canada, Ghana, India, Jamaica, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Kingdom

United States

Fulbright Program

The Fulbright Program funds bilateral exchanges between the United States and host countries worldwide, including India. The program offers 100-120 grants each year to American citizens to study or conduct research in India. Although the State Department provides funds for the Fulbright Program, the program itself, including the selection of grantees, is done by binational organizations in each country; for India, it's the United States Educational Foundation in India (USEFI).

For research scholars and nonacademic professionals, USEFI offers several programs related to science and technology:

  • The Senior Research Scholar Program awards 10-15 grants annually for periods of 4-9 months. The preferred fields vary over time to reflect current joint interests between India and the United States. Current topics include astronomy and astrophysics, economic reform, environmental issues, public health, medical sciences, women's studies, law, and intellectual property rights.

  • A specialized environmental leadership program offers opportunities for American professionals in the field, including scientists and engineers, to take part in an 8-12 week fellowship with counterparts in India.

  • The New Century Scholars Program funds a 3-month exchange with research devoted to the program's current theme. The 2007-2008 theme is "Higher Education in the 21st Century: Access and Equity."

  • USEFI offers specialized programs for visiting lecturers in various fields and senior specialists in curriculum development and educational administration.

For graduate students, USEFI offers 15-18 grants each year for up to 9 months. The preferred disciplines for this program include environmental sciences, agricultural sciences, and public health, as well as technology, communications, and business administration.

Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF)

The IUSSTF was established in 2000 through a bilateral agreement between the two governments to increase the number of collaborations between Indian and American scientists, including early and mid-career researchers. The organization has a number of private-sector participants in both countries, and as a result its programs are open to researchers in industry as well as academia. [The American Co-chair of IUSSTF is Norman P. Neureiter, Director of the Center for Science, Technology and Security Policy, of American Association for the Advancement of Science, publisher of Science Careers.]

Indo-U.S. Knowledge R & D Networked Joint Centres. This program funds scientific collaborations among multiple organizational partners, with a minimum of two Indian and two American organizations. Grants under this program can last up to 2 years, and while the partnership among the groups can be virtual, participants can use the funds for travel and associated expenses. IUSSTF makes these awards in September and January, with deadlines in June (15 June for the current call) and October.

IUSSTF also offers travel grants to attend events in India, for exploratory visits when establishing new partnerships, and for additional trips by researchers with grants from other organizations. The group also sponsors symposia and workshops.

National Science Foundation (NSF)

NSF's Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE) provides the bulk of the agency's funding for American researchers' participation in international exchanges. The office supports programs geared for scientists and engineers still early in their careers.

Developing Global Scientists and Engineers. The Developing Global Scientists and Engineers program has two sub-programs: International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) and Doctoral Dissertation Enhancement Projects (DDEP). IRES grants go to American graduate and undergraduate students, to provide a meaningful scientific experience and to broaden participants' international perspectives. IRES funding goes to institutions, not individuals, but the grants fund the exchanges of small groups of students. The deadlines for IRES grant proposals each year are 15 February and 15 September. DDEP grants support doctoral research overseas and proposals for these awards, submitted officially by the doctoral student's faculty advisor, can be sent in to NSF at any time.

International Research Fellowship Program (IRFP). IRFP grants support research by American postdocs, who have received Ph.D. degrees within the past 3 years, at universities or research institutes abroad. Researchers can use the funds for 9-24 months, with up to 1 year of that time reserved for “re-entry” into the United States. Proposals are normally due on the second Tuesday of September each year.

International Research and Education: Planning Visits and Workshops. OISE provides funds for visits of 7-14 days to plan research collaborations or workshops. These grants pay for travel and subsistence, not salaries or subsequent research. Planning-visit proposals may be submitted at any time. Workshop proposals are due in February, May, and September.

National Institutes of Health/Fogarty International Center

The Fogarty International Center, the international arm of NIH, addresses the scientific aspects of global health issues. The center has an extensive portfolio of biomedical research funding programs both on its own and together with other components of NIH, that can apply to projects in India.

Three programs that apply specifically to India:

  • Indo-U.S. Collaboration on Prevention of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and HIV/AIDS. One of this project's activities is to develop new and culturally appropriate intervention strategies. Included in its research agenda are HIV/AIDS prevention programs, behavioral and social research, and assessment of HIV-associated neuro-behavioral consequences.

  • Indo-U.S. Collaboration on Maternal and Child Health and Human Development Research. The issues addressed in this program include prevention and treatment of leading causes of maternal, neonatal and pediatric morbidity and mortality, maternal and child nutrition and the role of micronutrients in healthy child bearing, and reproductive health including socio-behavioral aspects, birth practices, and development and evaluation of newer contraceptives.

  • Indo-U.S. Vaccine Action Program (VAP). Under VAP, U.S. and Indian scientists carry out collaborative research projects directed toward the development and implementation of new vaccines and diagnostics.

American Society for Microbiology

Indo-U.S. Professorships in Microbiology. The society funds up to eight professorships a year, for microbiologists in India and the United States to visit institutions in the other country to teach an interactive short course on a topic in any of the microbiological disciplines.

American Institute of Indian Studies

Fellowship Programs. The American Institute of Indian Studies offers fellowships to faculty and graduate students for research on studies related to India's history, culture, and contemporary development. The fellowships include awards to some 40 scholars for work in India. The program includes awards for short-term (4 month) visits as well as 6-9 month tours. The current competition deadline is 1 July 2007.


Australia-India Strategic Research Fund. The Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) supports research cooperation between Australia and India, including funds for Australian scientists working in India. AISRF established two separate funding mechanisms, the Indo-Australian Science and Technology Fund and the Indo-Australian Biotechnology Fund. The next competition will be announced in August 2007.

Endeavour Programme. The Australian government funds short-term research and study in Asia and Pacific Rim countries for Australian nationals under its Endeavour Programme. Opportunities include research fellowships of 4-6 months for graduate students and postdocs, some of them set aside for indigenous Australians. The Endeavour Programme also has 1-4 month awards for Australian business executives to work with counterpart firms in Asia, with six awards specifically for work in India.

In addition, the Endeavour initiative provides financial support for universities to subsidize undergraduate student exchanges, including students going to India. Students should check with their universities to see if they are eligible.


Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

International Science and Technology Partnerships Program (ISTPP). ISTPP is a 5-year program that aims to build science and technology relationships between Canada and Israel, India, China, and Brazil. Funding supports bilateral research projects and stimulates networking to further new partnerships for the commercialization of research and development.

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

Special Research Opportunity (SRO) Program. The SRO program enables researchers to pursue new and emerging research opportunities and investigate and develop the new collaborations in Canada or abroad that will enable them to respond to these opportunities. The program provides short-term support for high-risk research projects with significant potential (i.e., economic) benefit to Canada.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

Going Global Science and Technology Program. This program supports projects designed to bring together Canadian researchers with counterparts in foreign countries for collaborative partnerships. Canadian researchers from private companies, universities and nongovernment research centers are eligible. The program provides funding to get collaborations started, but does not fund the research itself.

Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute

India Studies Competition. The Shastri Institute funds research by new and experienced faculty members, postdocs, and graduate students in studies related to India, including projects carried out in India. The current closing date for applications to this program is 8 June 2007.


Indo-French Centre for the Promotion of Advanced Research (IFCPAR)

India and France have established IFCPAR (French acronym: CEFIPRA), a new bilateral program to encourage scientific cooperation between the two countries.

Collaborative Research Projects. Collaborative projects involve two or more scientists with at least one scientist each from India and France. Projects can address any scientific or technical discipline and normally run for 3 years.

Industrial Research Projects. Industrial projects fund R&D initiatives that develop new or improved processes or products. These projects involve industrial partners, at least one each in France and India, and carry an expectation that the new product or process will come to market in 3-5 years.


Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)

Research Fellowship. Research Fellowships enable young researchers who have completed their doctorates to conduct research either in Germany or abroad, to help them learn new research methods or complete a research project.

Research Training Groups. Research Training Groups ( Graduiertenkollegs) are university training programs to support doctoral students. Within this program, DFG funds International Research Training Groups to encourage collaborations between German institutions and their counterparts abroad, including India.

Emmy Noether Programme. The Emmy Noether Programme provides funding for researchers with 2-4 years of postdoc experience to lead an independent research group, and thus to better qualify for a university teaching career. The program gives priority to researchers with international experience and can fund the researcher’s return to Germany from abroad.

Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Feodor Lynen Research Fellowships. Through this program, the foundation funds research abroad for some 150 German Ph.D. scientists under the age of 38. These fellowships include funding for projects of short or long duration. The short-term funding supports projects lasting 9 to 18 months. Long-term fellowships fund projects of 1 to 4 years.


Japan Society for the Promotion of Science

Postdoctoral Fellowships for Research Abroad. Under this program, fellowships are awarded to young Japanese postdoctoral researchers for conducting research at foreign universities or research institutions for a period of 2 years. The fellowships cover travel expenses, a stipend, and a research grant.

Research Fellowships for Young Scientists. These fellowships fund research by postdocs and doctoral students mainly at Japanese universities, but they also may be used to conduct research at institutions abroad.

United Kingdom

The Royal Society

International Joint Projects. The society's International Joint Project program offers grants to British academic scientists--postdoc or higher--and counterparts abroad, including India, to support collaborative research. The grants cover 2 years of research expenses, travel, and subsistence. Closing dates for proposals fall in March, June, September, and December each year. The next deadline is 13 June 2007.

Conference grants. The Royal Society funds travel to scientific conferences abroad to present papers--or just to attend the meetings. Closing dates for applications fall in March, June, September, and December each year. The next deadline is 5 June 2007.

The Wellcome Trust

International Senior Research Fellowship. The Wellcome Trust funds biomedical research fellowships in India and five other countries for researchers with 5-10 years of experience. Applicants can have either research or clinical backgrounds, with applications encouraged from scientists seeking to return to their home countries. The 2007-2008 competition is expected to be announced at the end of April 2007.

Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU)

ACU Grants for International Collaboration. The ACU offers funds for joint international social-science research projects for British academic faculty and counterparts in other Commonwealth countries, including India. Grants are for 1 year. The closing date for the current call for proposals is 15 October 2007.

British Council

The British Council establishes and promotes educational and cultural relationships between the United Kingdom and other countries, including the development of scientific collaborations. Its science program in India for 2006-2007 includes support for collaborative research projects in environmental science, biotechnology, and nanotechnology. The organization organizes conferences and workshops as well as prize competitions on these topics.

UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI)

UKIERI is a joint India-U.K. program intended to strengthen educational and research links between the two countries; see the article in this feature, “U.K.-India Initiative Aims to Renew Old Ties” for more about it. The program currently offers scholarships for doctoral students from India, but by 2011 it plans to support for British university students to study in India as well as 50 collaborative research projects.

Alan Kotok is managing editor of Science Careers.

Comments, suggestions? Please send your feedback to our editor.

DOI: 10.1126/science.caredit.a0700061

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