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National Natural Science FundStill Sees Potential Expansion--interview with the NSFC President Yang Wei

Prof. Yang Wei, delegate to the National People’s Congress and the new President of National Natural Science Foundation of China, recently received an interview with Science Times.

Prof. Yang Wei commented that the National Natural Science Fund has growth potential in terms of the total amount of funding resources. He pointed out that according to the statistic of NSFC in comparison with its U.S. counterparts, the funding budget of NSFC was only $2.8 billion, accounting for about 40% of the $7 billion budget of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2012. And NSFC’s Department of Health Sciences, though taking up one-third of NSFC’s total budget, has to shoulder similar responsibility to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) whose annual budgetis about $20 billion.

“With China’s GDP exceeding half of the U.S.’s and the expenditure on R&D also getting close to half of the U.S.’s, we need to explore how to boost China’s basic science with stronger financial support. We need to convince the central government with our high-quality work that it should provide more funding to NSFC—at a rate higher than both the GDP growth rate and the growth rate of expenditure on R&D—to facilitate the fast development of China’s basic science”, Yang Wei said.

As one of the earliest grantees of the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars (1994) and the principle investigator of the first Innovative Research Group on Mechanics (2001) funded by NSFC, in the past two decades, Prof. Yang Wei undertook a number of NSFC projects. Prof. Yang has just completed A NSFC Key Program project as the PI last year.

Prof. Yang was not only a good “athlete”, but also a good “referee”. “I have been participating in the peer review of proposals to NSFC for many years. I served as panelist for the panel in the area of mechanics and the member of the Expert Advisory Committee of the Department of Mathematics and Physical Sciences, and participated in the design of NSFC Major Program and Major Research Plan. I was very impressed by the meticulous and conscientious work of NSFC.”

From 2004 to 2006, as theDirector-General of the Academic Degrees Committee of the State Council, Prof. Yang organized the review of academic degree granting units, key disciplines, Projects for Key University and Collages (Project 211 and Project 985), , National-Outstanding Doctoral Dissertations and etc. He and his colleagues took the impartial and scientific review of National Natural Science Fund as the frame of reference and made great efforts to create a good environment for all the reviews.

During his tenure as President of Zhejiang University, Prof. Yang Wei mobilized the faculty members to apply for the National Natural Science Fund in 7 consecutive years.

Prof. Yang Wei stressed that as China grows into a strong economy, we can also expect an all-round rise of China’s basic science in twenty or thirty years. Chinese scientists will work with U.S. and European scientists to draw the skyline of basic science for the well-being of all humankind. And the majority of the most important basic science researches should be supported by NSFC. “If a Chinese scientist receives the Nobel Prize but has never been supported by NSFC, it would be our failure in our duty.”

“I am very happy to join NSFC at this moment and proceed along the road of promoting the innovation of China’s basic sciences.”

Copyright 2007 Bureau of International Cooperation, NSFC