By hook or by crook

Oct 09 2012 Published by under NIH Careerism, NIH funding

One of the worst feelings in science is to beat your head against the wall, trying to get your ideas funded, only to see multiple RFAs and PAs appear several years later. Or, to see someone finally get "your" grant funded.

I have three suggestions for sanity.

1) If you've stopped fighting on Idea 1 because you got funding to work on Idea 2....try to be philosophical* about it. I have approximately 10 fold more scientific ideas than I can ever dream of supervising at one time.

2) keep at it. Keep sending in apps even if someone else got funded. Who knows? Maybe you will end up the only one of multiple grants to actually produce anything!**

3) do it anyway on the back of some other project you have funded. Yeah, it can be risky come renewal time but....screw it. Life is too short to let your best ideas languish until you have specific funding.

--
*the first full grant I ever wrote...
**I won't lie. That shit feels good.

6 responses so far

  • Dr Becca says:

    The worst is also seeing these RFAs and thinking "finally, a grant that was made for me!" and then the word comes down that it's more like, "this grant is for people who aren't ALREADY doing the kind of research you're doing, but who would maybe like to."

  • Dave says:

    Happened to me on my K99 review last year. We were first to publish that "x does not have a role in tissue A but, look, it is much more important in tissue B". The problem was that everyone else was focusing on the role of x in tissue A and basically the reviewers did not believe that x was in any way involved in B. I even had comments like "well, I looked on an online database and it tells me that x is not even expressed in tissue B". Who the fuck uses those stupid databases for expression data anyway? This despite figure 1 of my preliminary data showing that the protein is very highly expressed in B and all of its pathway components are also highly expressed. But those comments set the stage for the rest of the review where at least two of the reviewers seemed to think I was on crack. Of course a lot of this is probably down to rookie mistakes in grant writing, but certainly not all of it.

    Now, one year later, all of our findings have been confirmed in numerous follow-up studies and most of the experiments I had proposed have now been published by other groups. Luckily we took a left turn because I knew it (scoopage) would happen and because without the grant I did not really have the resources to do some of the more expensive in vivo experiments. We focused instead on the same topic but came at it from a completely different angle, one which we didn't think many would, and that has worked out perfectly so far.

    We did this using money from all over the place - left over grant funds, funds from other projects and money from the big chief because he felt it was worth pursuing etc. Like you say - sometimes you just have to trust your gut.

  • biochembelle says:

    Or, Dr Becca, thinking "Wow! A grant written just for me!" and then realizing you already have to be funded by said agency...

  • drugmonkey says:

    Well they want those other, smarter people..... 🙁

  • Virgil says:

    @Dave
    "Leftover grant funds"
    Thanks. Best laugh I've had all day (so far).

  • Dave says:

    @Virgil
    I'm serious. You can do a lot in the lab with $10 - 20,000 and I have lost count how many times someone comes towards the end of year and says "I have 30K left on my grant - what shall we do?"

Leave a Reply