Thursday, 26 May 2011

Apologies, more politics; we need the brightest and best


We are desperately trying to employ a very bright young doctor and MS researcher from Iran. This is the response from our HR department: 

"Bottom line: there are not many options available, unless the person is an renowned expert in their field and can apply for tier 1. If you want to employ them as a post-doctoral scientist - then QMUL will have to apply via tier 2. Tier 2 (restricted) - there are no institutional quotas but a UK-wide quota of 1500 per month. If the quota has been reached for the month, we can keep re-applying until we get a visa. However to apply, the post must be advertised in the UK and EU for 4 weeks, and evidence is required to demonstrate that no suitable person is available in the of the whole of  the UK & EU. If they have funding (from a non-UK source) - they can come for a year as an Academic Visitor for a max of 12 months, BUT AGAIN this is quite difficult and they have to fulfill the following conditions:
(1) be an eminent senior doctor or dentist coming to take part in research, teaching or clinical practice; (2) they must not receive funding for their work from any United Kingdom source; (3) not be filling a normal post or a genuine vacancy; (4) not stay in the UK for more than 12 months; (5) not intend to take employment in the UK; (6) intend to leave the UK at the end of their visit; and (7) be able to maintain themselves and any dependents without having recourse to public funds (or be adequately maintained and accommodated by relatives or friends)."

"I predict in 10 years time the UK will be a scientific also-ran and will be way down the scientific league tables."


17 comments:

  1. I'm sure there must be talent in our best Universities or in the EU. Needs to be a balance - little point in investing in UK universities if there are no positions for them to fill when they graduate. Are there no very bright young doctors / MS researchers in the UK? If no, then there's something wrong with our education system.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am sure there are, but this is about a particular individual and what he brings to the table from Iran. At the moment Iran is experiencing an epidemic of MS and therefore makes it the ideal place for studying and pinning down the cause of the disease. As for this individual he has several other options and will almost certainly now take up one of the offers he has from Institutions in the United States. ACADEMIC GAZUMPING!

    ReplyDelete
  3. (i) Reason for rise in MS in Iran. 1979 - Islamic revolution. From 1979 all woman have followed conservative muslim dress code = very low levels of Vit D (and I'm not a doctor). Don't need a study to confirm this. You can work out how EBV fits in.

    (ii) You make these doctors sound like city bankers i.e. if we don't pay them huge sums they'll go elsewhere. What happened to the idea of working for the good of humankind!

    ReplyDelete
  4. If MS is epidemic in Iran why isn't this researcher staying there to try and find out the cause?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Talking of politics, whose crazy idea is this restriction of numbers of scientists coming into this country... more to the point - who voted them in?? Talk about short sighted!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Re vD in Iran: it is a good hypothesis but needs a lot more work to say that it the factor behind the increase in incidence. Against the vD hypothesis this is the observation that in Afganhastan, which is also a persian country, and in Afgan refugees living in Iran there is virtually no MS. Any suggestions?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Re Researcher being treated like bankers. I suspect the reason for this is that like banking academic research is very competitive and the success of groups are driven by their ability to attract the best talent. The difference with us is that we don't get paid large sums of money for success; we tend to thrive on intrinsic motivation.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Re the question why the researcher does not stay in Iran. The person in question has set-up a large natural history study and has collected a large number of specimens for study. The aim would be to work on those specimens in the UK. Unfortunately, due to the sanctions it is very difficult for Iranians to get laboratory reagents and soem laboratory equipment.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Is Iran the only country we can work with? No! An MS epidemic also appears to be occuring in a large number of Arab countries, but the data in these countries is less reliable than Iran. I plan to visit Saudi Arabia later this year with the specific aim of establishing a research collaborattion with academics to look at environmental triggers or drivers of the disease processes in MS.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I was in the middle east a couple of weeks ago. I mentioned the obesity problem in US and UK. I was told that Saudi Arabia also has problem with obesity (western diet) and they have seen a huge rise is cases of diabetes. Perhaps in additon to Vit D and EBV, diet is also a risk factor.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Not sure about diet; there is no obvious signal in the epidemiology except in the North of Norway where a high fish diet seems to be protective. The reason for this is that fatty wild fish is a good source of vD; unlike farmed fish which is low in vD.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Dr G, are you familiar with the writing of Dr George Jelinek? (not a neurologist, but a doctor-researcher and also a MS patient)
    Many people find his suggestions on diet very convincing
    http://www.overcomingmultiplesclerosis.org/Recovery-Program/Diet/
    http://www.overcomingmultiplesclerosis.org/Resources/About-Professor-Jelinek/

    ReplyDelete
  13. Is there something the lay person can do to help overcome this problem (inability to get an appropriate visa for the person from Iran)?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Prof G,

    Someone beat your guy to it (at least it saves the air fare!).

    As I forecast, VitD deficiency is a key factor for the MS epidemic in Iran plus smoking (among females).

    http://msj.sagepub.com/content/17/5/550.abstract?rss=1

    ReplyDelete
  15. "I predict in 10 years time the UK will be a scientific also-ran and will be way down the scientific league tables."

    A bit pessimistic. We are a tiny country compared with the US, but we will still punch above our weight. Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial are still world-class insitutions. The fact that so many overseas researchers want to come to the UK also suggests that we're not quite dead and buried as a scientific nation. Our medical profession is as multi-cultural / diverse as anywhere in the world and our medical training is up there with the best.

    ReplyDelete
  16. To my point! UK multiculturalism has been built on a relatively easy and welcoming access to the UK; something to celebrate.

    The current immigration system is not compatible with this tradition. For example, if the current immigration policy was in place in 1993, when I came to London to do my PhD, I would not have been allowed in. At the time I had 5 offers for further education; 2 offers from the UK and 3 in the US. Thankfully, I chose the UK and I am very happy.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Re 'Afganhastan, which is also a persian country, and in Afgan refugees living in Iran there is virtually no MS. Any suggestions?'

    Afghans and Iranians are not exactly the same people. Afghanistan is partly Persian-speaking but it is not the majority language.

    Refugees who were born in Afghanistan could have got a lot of Vit D in their early years

    I don't think Afghanistan is polluted. The average altitude is above a few thousand feet and the weather is cool, dry & sunny.
    Women are covered up but small girls are not. Even later, the covering up is only in public. Homes could have courtyards or terraces which can't be seen from outside.

    ReplyDelete

Please note that all comments are moderated and any personal or marketing-related submissions will not be shown.