Basic Information on the Interviewee
Professor Keith Maurice Kendrick is a British system neuroscientist who is working as a full professor in the key laboratory of neuro information at the School of Life Science and Technology, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (UESTC) in Chengdu. His primary interest resides in understanding how different brain systems are organised to control a variety of social and emotional behaviours. His research mainly focuses on using animal models (primarily rodents and sheep) to investigate how the brain processes social cues (both olfactory and visual) and on identifying factors that influence social bonding and recognition. Meanwhile, Prof. Kendrick is also the first foreign full professor who came to Sichuan province through the China 1000 Talent Scheme and the Sichuan 100 Talent Scheme. These schemes aim to recruit global experts to work in China. This helps Prof. Kendrick to be involved in projects supported by Chinese funding.
Approach to Chinese Research Networks and Researchers
Prof. Kendrick had worked with Chinese scientists based in the UK for over 10 years. He learned about the recruitment programmes of global experts of China from one of his Chinese friends who was a professor at the Fudan University. To attract overseas talents, Chinese government launched the 1000 Talent Scheme, which is a national recruitment programme. Moreover, many provinces operate similar programmes, such as the 100 Talent Scheme of Sichuan Province. After being granted by both the 1000 Talent Scheme and the 100 Talent Scheme (Sichuan), Prof. Kendrick signed a full professor contract with the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China for 5 years. Prof. Kendrick is currently working with Prof. Yu at the Tianjin Medical University General Hospital regarding the effects of oxytocin on brain processing of attraction and trust. Meanwhile, he is collaborating with Prof. Lu and his group at the Jinling Hospital of Nanjing Medical School, Hanjing Hospital, together with Prof. Jianfeng Feng at the Fudan Universty to investigate changes in functional brain pathways associated with depression, schizophrenia and epilepsy.
Preparation of the Application Applications
for the recruitment programmes of global experts, such as the 1000 Talent Scheme, are open about once a year and the whole application process takes about 6 months. Specifically, those programmes require applicants to spend a significant amount of time working in China (usually more than 6 months per year). Also, applicants are mandatory to hold a title of full professor outside China and find a Chinese University interested in working with them. University of Electronic Science and Technology of China made the application in Chinese after Keith Kendrick had provided full details of his research. Working in China facilitates the access to the Chinese funding projects and partners. Prof. Kendrick made his first grant application of National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) and received the award notification after two months. The grant only provides equipment and consumable costs, but the cost of staff need to be covered by the host institution. Moreover, the grant allows multi-center collaboration within and outside China.
Benefits through collaborations
The major benefit from the recruitment programmes of global experts is the financial support. Prof. Kendrick benefits from the Ministry of Education through the 1000 Talent Scheme Award with 1 million RMB (central government) and 1 million RMB (provincial government). In addition, he received 5 million RMB NSFC grant from UESTC and a competitive remuneration package. Moreover, UESTC provided all the facilities and staff/students that NSFC required. Regarding the research, it is much easier and takes less time to conduct human preclinical and clinical studies in China than in the UK and other European countries. Meanwhile, Prof. Kendrick can still continue his international collaborations.
Barriers Encountered, Lessons Learned and Recommended Actions to Improve the Participation of European Researchers in Chinese Programmes
Without an excellent bilingual background and other personal support, it is difficult for a foreign scientist to carry out research and obtain research funding in China. It is not easy to find bilingual staff to work with the low salaries in academic sector. There are multiple layers of bureaucracies so professors need dedicated staff to handle them on their behalves. Because the grants do not cover the cost of the staff, foreign professors are dependent on support from universities. Usually, it is expected that professors recruit a large number of graduate students, instead of hiring new and expensive post-graduate staff.