Fellowship in Gene Therapy Development for Rare Genetic Kidney Diseases

1. Origins

a. A unique opportunity is offered to an outstanding doctoral researcher to conduct research under a project titled “Development of Gene Therapy for Rare Genetic Kidney Diseases”.

b. This scholarship is funded by New South Wales (NSW) Health and the University of Sydney under the NSW Health Gene and Cell Therapy PhD Program.

2. Eligibility

a. This scholarship is offered subject to applicants having an unconditional offer of admission to commence or being currently enrolled in a full-time PhD within the University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine and Health.

b. Applicants must be willing to conduct research in a project titled “Development of Gene Therapy for Rare Genetic Kidney Diseases”.

vs. Candidates must be able to demonstrate that they:

I. hold an undergraduate degree with at least a credit average or equivalent, and
II. have research experience in an Honors program (First Class or Second Class, Division I), or
III. hold a research master’s degree in a relevant field.

D. Candidates must be either:

I. an Australian citizen,
II. an Australian permanent resident, or
III. hold an appropriate visa which grants residency status and the right to work in Australia until 30 August 2023 or the scheduled end of the recipient’s doctoral application.

3. Selection criteria

a. The successful candidate will receive the scholarship on the basis of:

I. academic merit,
II. a one-page cover letter detailing interest in the domain, and
III. two referee references.

b. Preference will be given to candidates who can demonstrate that they have experience in one or more of the following areas:

I. Skills in molecular biology
II. Understanding of immunology
III. Interest in gene therapy
IV. Interest in animal models

vs. Shortlisted candidates will be required to attend an interview.

D. The successful candidate will receive the scholarship upon the nomination of a selection committee consisting of:

I. Professor Stephen Alexander (Chair) Spouse
II. Dr Yuan Min Wang
III. A/Prof Fabienne Brilot Head of HD FMH

4. Value

a. A successful recipient will receive a stipend worth $40,000 per year for up to 3.5 years, subject to satisfactory academic performance.

b. No extension will be allowed.

vs. The recipient must begin the fellowship by August 31, 2022.

D. The scholarship cannot be deferred or transferred to another field of research.

e. The recipient must receive written approval from NSW Health to receive any additional funding to support their PhD research, unless the funding source is the University of Sydney.

F. The recipient shall not receive any additional scholarships (primary and/or supplementary) while holding this scholarship.

g. The scholarship will be offered subject to the availability of funds.

5. Eligibility for Progression

a. Progression is contingent upon attendance and successful completion of the annual progress review.

6. Leave Provisions

a. The scholarship holder receives up to 20 working days of leisure leave each year of the scholarship and this can be accumulated. However, the student will forfeit any remaining unused leave when the scholarship ends or expires. Recreational leave does not result in a leave charge and supervisor approval must be obtained prior to taking leave.

b. The scholarship holder may take up to 10 working days of sick leave each year of the scholarship and this can be accumulated during the duration of the scholarship. Students with family responsibilities, caring for sick children or parents, or victims of domestic violence, may convert up to five days of their annual sick leave entitlement to carer’s leave upon presentation of a or medical certificate(s). Students taking sick leave should notify their supervisor as soon as possible.

7. Research abroad

a. The Fellow cannot normally conduct overseas research within the first six months of award and must comply with Australian COVID-19 travel restrictions and those implemented by the University of Sydney.

b. The Fellow may undertake up to 12 months of research outside Australia. Approval must be sought from the student’s supervisor, principal, and faculty via a Higher Degree Application from the Center for Research Administration (HDRAC) and will only be granted if the research is essential upon graduation. All periods of research abroad are cumulative and will count towards a student’s application. Students must remain enrolled full-time at the University and receive approval to count time away.

8. Discontinuation

a. The scholarship holder cannot suspend his scholarship during his first six months of study, unless a legislative provision applies.

b. The scholarship holder can request up to 12 months suspension from the scholarships for any reason during the duration of their scholarship. Periods of scholarship suspension are cumulative and failure to resume studies after suspension will result in termination of the scholarship. Approval must be sought from the student’s supervisor, principal, and faculty via a Higher Degree Application from the Research Administration Center (HDRAC). The periods of study towards the degree during the suspension of the scholarship will be deducted from the maximum duration of the scholarship.

9. Registration Changes

a. The scholarship recipient must promptly notify HDRAC and their supervisor of any intended changes to their enrollment, including, but not limited to: attendance pattern, suspension, discharge, withdrawal, course transfer, and the upgrade or downgrade of the application. If the scholarship holder does not provide notice of the changes identified above, the University may require reimbursement of any overpaid stipend.

10. Termination

a. The scholarship will end:

I. in the event of resignation or withdrawal of the holder of his doctorate,
II. upon submission of the thesis or at the end of the scholarship,
III. if the recipient ceases to be a full-time student and prior authorization has not been obtained to hold the scholarship on a part-time basis,
IV. when the recipient has completed the maximum application for their degree in accordance with the policy of the University of Sydney Rule 2011 (Higher Degree by Research),
V. whether the recipient receives alternative or additional scholarships. In the event that the recipient accepts an alternative primary stipend scholarship, that scholarship will be terminated in favor of the alternative stipend scholarship where it is of greater value,
VI. if the Beneficiary does not return to school at the end of a period of approved leave, or
VII. if the recipient ceases to meet the eligibility criteria specified for this scholarship (other than during a period in which the scholarship was suspended or during a period of approved leave).

b. The scholarship may also be terminated by the University before this date if, in the opinion of the University:

I. the course of study is not carried out with skill and diligence or in accordance with the terms of this offer,
II. the student fails to maintain satisfactory progress, or
III. the student has committed misconduct or other inappropriate conduct.

vs. Benefit payments will be suspended for the duration of any investigation/appeal process.

D. Once the scholarship is terminated, it will not be reinstated, except in the case of error by the University.

11. Misconduct

a. Where during the scholarship a student engages in misconduct or other inappropriate conduct (either during the scholarship or in relation to the student’s application and eligibility for the scholarship), which in the opinion of the University, justifies the recovery of the funds provided, the University may require the student to reimburse the payments made under the scholarship. Examples of such conduct include and are not limited to; academic dishonesty, research misconduct within the meaning of the Code of Conduct for Research (e.g. plagiarism in proposing, carrying out or reporting research results, or failure to declare or manage a serious conflict of interest), violation of the Code of Conduct for Students and misrepresentation in application documents or other documents associated with the scholarship.

b. The University may require such reimbursement at any time during or after the scholarship period. Further, by accepting this scholarship, the student consents that all aspects of any investigation of misconduct in connection with this scholarship will be disclosed by the University to the funding agency and/or any relevant professional body .

12. Reports

a. The successful scholarship recipient must provide the following as outlined in the agreement:

I. an annual progress report containing feedback from the successful recipient and their supervisors,
II. an annual financial report, and
III. a final report at the end of the project.

13. Acknowledgment of receipt

a. The recipient of this scholarship must acknowledge NSW Health and the University of Sydney in their thesis or in any publication or presentation arising from the research funded by this scholarship.

14. Other requirements

a. The successful recipient must participate in the NSW Health Cellular and Cellular Therapy PhD Program Program Marketing and Evaluation Training Program when initiated by NSW Health.