Wow, the start of this year has been insane. I feel like I hardly have time to sleep… So far this year we’ve put out at least 3 grant applications, submitted (or resubmitted) 4 papers and the pile of grant applications that need to go out is growing on my desktop. A few quick thoughts before I head off to the highlight of a busy weekend, the faculty basketball game.
1A) Is it just me or are new investigators more or less locked out of most of the stimulus funds? I’m feeling pretty confused about how this is going to do anything other than help the rich get richer. For instance, the proposals for capital improvements are aimed almost entirely at people that already have R01s, or some other form of large grant. I would very much like to apply for one of the equipment grants (we could kick-ass if we had an LSM-5-live); however, since I don’t have an R01 I don’t count as part of a group that will apply for funding to buy such a piece of equipment. This means I have to recruit at least 3 other people who have funding and basically tag-along with them. I’m gonna try to do it anyway but its not clear to me that my presence on such a grant won’t be more of a hinderance than a help.
1B) In general, I think that it is a huge mistake that NIH has not appropriated some specific stimulus funds to help new investigators. We are the future of an innovation-based economy and this is an excellent opportunity to make that point through some new investigator-specific programs. I think that it sends the wrong message, at exactly the wrong time. To me it says you’re not willing to bet on the new generation of scientists to help pull us out of this mess.
1C) The challenge grants are similarly murky. There are several areas to which I would like to apply. One of the criticisms of my R01 was that I didn’t have previous experience running an R01 program (I still think that sort of criticism is not supposed to happen anymore). I can see the critique now “an excellent application but the lack of experience of the investigator raises the question of whether gains can be expected within 2 years”. I know, I’m becoming cynical…
2) An interesting article in Nature about the dire straights of University of Arizona. Yes, its true, this state is full of absolute idiot politicians. There is some good news though. Many of the research-intensive corporations in the Tucson area have stepped up to the plate financially (think additional scholarships) and politically (through participation in protests at the capitol). There may be some hope after all.
3) My major pain-specific professional society continues to support my career development. After completing my service on a minor committee I was asked to join a much larger and more important committee. I’m looking forward to that. I owe a huge thank-you to whoever it is up there that keeps recommending me for these things.
4) Graduate students — When a professor arranges for an hour long meeting for you to get to know a world famous visiting seminar speaker, you had better show up.
5) Its almost time for March Madness!! GO HEELS!!!
6) The great scientist and pioneer cell biology blogger Alex Palazzo is a new father. Go congratulate him!!