Tidbits, I have 30 minutes before Saturday basketball

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!!

8 responses to “Tidbits, I have 30 minutes before Saturday basketball

  1. Totally agree on 1A, B and C. And so does Abel Pharmboy.

  2. New Asst. Prof.

    I agree too – chasing stimulus funds is completely pointless for those of us who are junior faculty, and I know I’d be better served by getting back to work so that I can submit the best possible ‘real’ R01 before everyone who gets funded through these things comes back for another round of money.

  3. Agree about stimulus money and new investigators.

    I am going to call my PO next week and have a chat about what he thinks. Part of me thinks that program may decide to help out new investigators….maybe I am just dreaming.

    Go Heels!!!!

  4. PiT, thanks for pointing our Abel’s post.

    New Asst. Prof., that’s a good point, and one that was made in an editorial in Science this week: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/323/5919/1274
    It might end up being the case that this stimulus funds will clear the queue, so to speak. I have heard from many in and around the study section that reviews my grants that they basically don’t give scores to first submissions because they are so backlogged. I think this is a sorry excuse, but it is the rumor.

    Pinus, That’s right baby, GO HEELS!!!! Roy better have them ready to play come tourney time. I need a national championship!

  5. New Asst. Prof.

    I’ve heard that lame excuse too, about unscoring first submissions because study sections are overwhelmed with applications. More insidious (I think) is the occasionally-expressed opinion that first submissions are probably less desperate for the money than, say, an A2 (which of course is defunct as of now). Reviewers have absolutely no real way of judging that, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who resents being told, essentially, to wait in line because other people asked first. This is not “first come, first served,” this is about good science. Grrr…

  6. Pingback: Bleak House (and I don’t mean the Dickens novel) | Professor in Training

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