"We've seen it all before, this is just a cyclical downturn for the NIH funding"

Popular thought. But it is nonsense.

A close collaborator was recently experiencing this common denial trope from one of the more established type of scientists. The thinking is that

"...sure, things are tough for younger scientists right now but hey, things have been tough before. It's all just a cycle and oh, stop complaining kiddos. We had it hard too."

Here is why it is in error to argue this- the magnitude of the downturn was lesser and it lasted for a shorter duration in those prior "cycles". Let us refer to the infamous Undoubling graph.

Heinig07-NIHbudget-trend.jpeg.jpg

Figure 1. NIH Appropriations (Adjusted for Inflation in Biomedical Research) from 1965 through 2007, the President's Request for 2008, and Projected Historical Trends through 2010.
All values have been adjusted according to the Biomedical Research and Development Price Index on the basis of a standard set of relevant goods and services (with 1998 as the base year). The trend line indicates average real annual growth between fiscal years 1971 and 1998 (3.34%), with projected growth (dashed line) at the same rate. The red square indicates the president's proposed NIH budget for fiscal year 2008, also adjusted for inflation in biomedical research.

The previous downturns in the NIH funding (and you can verify the scientist complaining by looking through old Science magazines, btw) occurred approximately in the late 1960s, the early 1980s* and the early 1990s. I happened to join this career path right around the 1990s downturn and I remember the whining about grant funding quite clearly. That 1990s downturn was what led to the infamous NIH Doubling. The late 1960s downturn led to Congressional action as well. In both cases you can see where the lapse in Congressional interest led to the following episode of downturn. It is here that we should also review the subsequent update on the Undoubling graph, the even more sinister Defunding Graph.
NIHBudget-MAW-edit-497x400
Via Michael White, presumably via John F Sargent, Jr.

It should be emphatically clear to even the casual observer that the magnitude of the decline in the NIH budget and the duration of the downturn prior to the next Congressional rescue differs. Dramatically. Make sure you check the corresponding longitudinal trends in grant success rates. In case you are wondering about the most recent numbers, according to Sally Rockey, the overall RPG success rates for FY 2012-2014 are 17.6%, 16.8% and 18.1%, respectively. Things are most emphatically not good for the kids these days.

These are the facts. We can argue until the cows come home over how and why various up and down cycles have occurred. We can dispute whether Congressional appropriations intended to rescue the NIH extramural community do harm, good, a balance of the two and what this means for the future.

It is not optional, however, to act like the present downturn is of the same magnitude or impact as the prior ones.
__
*"I remember multiple study section rounds in which nothing ended up getting funded" --a senior colleague

98 responses so far

  • GM says:

    Also, this downturn has been going on for a decade now, it's not just the magnitude but the length too.

    And that has its effects - for example, when you cited those success rates, my first thought was "Hey, that's actually not so bad", because first, it has already become the new normal, and second, we have paid more attention to the success rates around and even below 10% in some institutes, compared to which 18.1% looks fairly good...

  • Philapodia says:

    The slope of the 2002-2014 curve is reminiscent of a double black diamond ski run. Experts only, newbies stay away!

  • qaz says:

    Re: the longitudinal trends graph: Remember that you really only have to hit one R01 every few years - so assuming pure randomness (*) three years at 50% (1960s) means an 87.5% chance of hitting once in those three years (only 12.5% chance of failing three years in a row); three years at 40% (1970s) means a 78% chance. Even three years at 30% (1980s) means a 65% chance. But three years at 15% means you only have a 40% chance of surviving (60% chance of dying). And once you hit the lab-death wall, you're done.

    * we know it's not pure randomness, which means that these numbers all go up a little bit for talented people "willing to put the effort into it". Up a little bit from 87.5% means you'll make it. Up from 40% still means a good chance you're dead, even if you do everything right.

  • DoctorD says:

    In 1980 President Reagan issued an executive order prohibiting NIH from funding social science. As an emerging post-doc, that order had an immediate impact on my career. I had to find other funding sources and conduct a wider array of research. It took 8 years but I eventually received an NIH award. I learned a lot of program and project management during my exile from NIH and that made me a stronger investigator.

  • drugmonkey says:

    GM- always be clear that you are not confusing paylines with success rates when you think about these numbers.

  • GM says:

    Yes, I think I was, my bad

  • Joe says:

    W. had a science adviser who was a physicist and recommended flat NIH budgets because biol science funding was unsustainable. However, it has been very disappointing that O. has not been able to or inclined to put NIH on a sustainable and growing course. We may need the GOP to to push for increased NIH budgets as they did in the 90s to have any hope for improvement.

  • zb says:

    Looking at both of these graphs I think that a contributor the problem of lower success rates, and reaching lab death, is over hiring of completely grant-contingent or grant-dependent faculty at universities. In the generational graph, I see the trend of separation grow with the NIH doubling period, when I think a number of institutions went on hiring sprees.

    So I agree it's worse now -- I was also there in the 90's, and saw the expectations change -- but I think a significant part of the reason is more people in the pool. The big research universities expanded, and the littler ones started programs where they didn't have them, and everyone sold the hires as an investment who would bring in grant dollars.

    I see a winnowing as inevitable because I don't see the economy and political systems recovering to the point where significantly more money is going to be spent on NIH budgets. The question is whether it will be a winnowing followed by stability or churn.

  • drugmonkey says:

    The big research universities expanded, and the littler ones started programs where they didn't have them, and everyone sold the hires as an investment who would bring in grant dollars.

    You would be amazed at how difficult it is to come up with any clear answers as to which of these truthy sounding "real causes" of the current NIH stress is a major driver from piecing together the various PI/App/SuccessRate/etc data from Rockey's blog. "Death of a thousand cuts" is my current best read on the available data.

  • Spike Lee says:

    I began graduate school not long before 9/11 (and the associated 10 years of Mid-East war), and began my post-doc just as the economy was hitting bottom in 2008/9. These were grim omens, but I tried not to worry.

    I felt at the time that they were exceptional events (still do), that given enough time the economy would recover to some kind of stable state, and that funding would flow again at "normal" levels -- hopefully just in time for me to start asking the NIH for serious bucks.

    But now I think I kind of agree with zb: the political will to fund basic science seems to have taken a back seat to other interests, and so even a booming economy will do us no good.

  • zb says:

    It's the political will to fund anything, not just basic science.

  • SidVic says:

    I would like to see the NIH spending graphs as a % of GNP. Yeah, i am generally conservative politically. When Obama was elected, i was horrified; but consoled that my self-interest in increased research spending would off-set the pain. No dice, the guy is apparently uninterested in science/technology unless it is is green energy boondoggles. Forget about NIH, NASA is descending into disgrace.

    Just my 2 cents but what i think has made this career a miserable grasping for funding rather than the life of the mind i naively thought it to be when i signed up:

    1 Too many foreigners- don't get me wrong, they work hard as hell and are smart ambitious and all that. Truth be told they are propping up american science. I don't think half of them would be in science if it were not a acknowledged ticket to the first world (essentially most i know are living for their kids- who sure as hell are not encouraged to enter academia) . Not surprising, people seek out the best opportunities. Which is why smart ambitious american kids are going into finance or becoming MD-specialist (dermatology is the largest waste of talent that the world has ever seen)
    2. Basis science comprises less than half of NIH spending. I won't make the argument about how the feds should fund basic science and leave the applied science to industry. But the lean NIH budgets, coupled to the ascendancy of the clinicians at NIH is pushing out fundamental science, It will get worst. I have noticed that clinical medicine has become so miserable that many MDs are trying to escape to academia.

    Notwithstanding the above, it is probably best to keep it in perspective. 100 years ago one would have to be independently wealthy or have rich benefactors to do experiments for a living.

  • Juan Lopez says:

    "Too many foreigners- don't get me wrong". Of course, it would be horrible to get you wrong and take you for what you are.

    From the same page "If you don't want people to call you a racist, stop saying and doing racist things. It's not the fact that you're a teabagger or a conservative that makes people call you a racist; it is that you are, in fact, a racist. - Ken in Tucson"

  • CD0 says:

    SidVic, you are not serious, right?
    Nobody could be so ignorant as where to put the blame for the lack of GOVERNMENT (sorry for the bad word) funding.
    Trashing the contribution of "foreigners" as if science in the US had not been always open to the best minds (you probably do not know about Einstein or von Braun, I assume) is even more ridiculous.
    I really wish you a terrible day.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Before you people get off too far ranting about the foreigner comment could you reflect on labor policy for a second? No?

  • dsks says:

    in re funding, if a decision has been made on high to cut funding to sciences over the long term and cull our numbers a little, okay I can kinda deal with that, even if the stealthy backdoor inflate-it-away approach is a bit galling. What rubs me up the wrong way is that this clear trend towards reduced funding into STEM hasn't remotely abated the propaganda drive, encouraged by the NIH, to direct the youth of today into STEM fields in order to further inflate the graduate population.

    I must be getting a 2-3 flyers a semester - mostly from prestigious institutions -shilling their bloody neuroscience grad programs with the same verve as Coca-Cola pushing soft drinks. Only with Coca-Cola et al, at least you know what you're drinking, and the "Kool Aid" is clearly labelled so.

  • Grumble says:

    The cuts to science are part of overall cuts to government, which are motivated by a remarkably successful, highly virulent strain of reactionary conservatism that has grasped the Republican Party by the balls. Even Republican congresspeople who recognize that public funding for science is an essential investment in America's future are unable to get around the "all government is bad, get it off our backs, no new taxes, and by the way, no more foreigners, either, and certainly no more money for science because all we need to know is already written in the Bible" nutcases. Why? Because there are just enough of those nutcases that they are able to block anything they want and bend the Republican agenda towards their ideology. And no Republican can risk going against them too strongly.

    With respect to NIH funding, the only question that matters is, when will this ideology begin to lose its grip on politics at the national level? It doesn't look good. The right wing is incredibly well funded by wealthy people and corporate interests, and they have been enormously successful in entrenching themselves in state and local politics, where they always work against Democratic voter power (e.g., redistricting, laws that have little effect other than to restrict voting by poor people). I'm of the opinion that the only thing that will put it on the retreat is a large-scale uprising of the downtrodden, something similar to the socialist agitation of the late 19th and early 20th century. We're a long, long way away from that.

    So DM is right: this is no temporary downturn. I predict that the NIH budget will remain flat or decline for the next 10 to 20 years, if not longer.

  • dsks says:

    "The cuts to science are part of overall cuts to government, which are motivated by a remarkably successful, highly virulent strain of reactionary conservatism that has grasped the Republican Party by the balls."

    The democrats had the senate from 2009 to 2015, and the House from 2007 to 2011. Yes, there is a "highly virulent strain of reactionary conservatism that has grasped the Republican Party by the balls" but it has little to do with the flat/inflation reduced NIH budget over the last 10 yrs (hell, the boom years were under Dubya's tenure, and although they started declining half way through, they didn't cut under inflation until Obama stepped in).

    There is more to this that partisan politics, we've somehow lost both sides of the isle.

  • Eli Rabett says:

    The ordinate should be $Billions/PhD graduates each year

  • drugmonkey says:

    dsks- somehow you managed to overlook the fact that Bush slammed us into a recession of large impact which hamstrung any political will for spending.

  • Grumble says:

    Not to mention that Dubya is not the Tea Party. Republicans were willing to spend on the NIH during the W years and before. Now they aren't anymore, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. The Republican party is not the same as it was 10 years ago.

  • Jonathan says:

    @SidVic

    The President doesn't get to decide how much money federal agencies get, that's Congress' job, and it's one they've decided not to do for the last 18 years (which was the last time they passed all the appropriations bills they were supposed to).

  • Jonathan says:

    And to push back a bit on the accusations of racism, as one of those former foreign postdocs, I don't think there's any question that an inexhaustible supply of cheap labor from abroad has had a significant effect on the labor market for scientists. Now, you can argue that America has reaped benefits from that (in a wider context than just jobs for researchers), but lets not pretend there aren't consequences.

  • Grumble says:

    Yes, Jon, but that was not SidVic's point. His point was that "too many foreigners" willing to work cheaply have "made this career a miserable grasping for funding rather than the life of the mind." Never mind that if scientists were paid better, that doesn't mean that the federal budget for science wouldn't necessarily be bigger, meaning that better paid scientists would result in even more nonstop grant-writing misery.

    When someone blows something out of his ass, I typically step gingerly away and ignore it. I suggest you do the same.

  • Dave says:

    With respect to NIH funding, the only question that matters is, when will this ideology begin to lose its grip on politics at the national level?

    Something like a generation I think, but that is assuming (probably incorrectly) that there is a large political shift. I think it will take this long for the Democrats to realize that the makeup of the senate and house is far more important than who sits in the big office. Hopefully there will be a true liberal party challenge to the Democrats in the near future.

    Too many foreigners

    I'll get my coat.....

  • dsks says:

    "dsks- somehow you managed to overlook the fact that Bush slammed us into a recession of large impact which hamstrung any political will for spending."

    Oh, I wasn't giving dubya any pats on the back for that, the whole anti-science craziness gathered most of its steam during his office after all... I was pointing out that that a lack of political will to maintain NIH funding (let alone increase it) has been lacking from both sides. The Democrats pushed the stimulus package which provided a bit of a boost, I guess, but that's proved beer in the long run.

  • MF says:

    Like dsks, I am also puzzled by the constant promotion of STEM careers when at least the "Science" part of the job market seems to be shrinking. I would also argue that the "Engineering" part is not doing so well either, although, unlike science, that has less to do with government spending.

    On the other hand, at least the scientists and science policy experts cannot be accused of supporting protectionist labor policies, an accusation often levied towards the AMA.

  • dsks says:

    "I don't think there's any question that an inexhaustible supply of cheap labor from abroad has had a significant effect on the labor market for scientists."

    Well... but actually there is room to question that piece of conventional wisdom for several reasons. First, the primary source of salaries for research labor is the government, not the private sector, and thus its shielded from direct exposure to the labor market forces that influence the private sector. As someone else said, a sudden reduction in foreigners applying to do science in the US is not going to suddenly translate into an increase in wages for the remaining domestic academic research staff unless a panel was convened and a policy changed to alter the RA salary guidelines of grants.

    The other thing is that the class of foreigner that moves to the US to do science generally desires/requires the same access to the necessities that her American colleagues. Car, place to live, health care, child care, a grocery list that features items other than Ramen noodles etc. In short, foreign labor might be cheaper when Johnny Foreigner is laboring in his country of origin, but it largely ceases to be so when he moves to the US and must incur the same cost of living as his domestic competitors.

    An additional chip away at the truthiness of this assertion is that there's been an increasing influx of dirty foreigners in US Big Pharma over the years, and yet there is no obvious downward pressure on wages in this sector (relative to the general economy at least). Unlike with the tech sector - although this issue is controversial also - there is no evidence that H1B programs have adversely impacted wages in academic or private sector medical research.

  • MoBio says:

    @dsks

    I'm hoping this is some sort of typing error on your part?

    "an increasing influx of dirty foreigners in US Big Pharma over the years, "

  • Grumble says:

    "I am also puzzled by the constant promotion of STEM careers when at least the "Science" part of the job market seems to be shrinking"

    Those who do this promoting (e.g., NIH, NSF) do it because they have a long-term vision of what is good for the American economy. If we don't train people for STEM jobs, then we will begin to lag behind competitor nations in the innovation that drives a significant sector of the economy. Even if traditional academic science jobs are declining in number (due primarily to Republican idiocy; see above), is it really a bad thing to have more PhDs? There are other career paths. Having trained scientists in those careers is good for us.

    (Also, if you think the "Engineering" part of the job market isn't doing so well, then you might remodel your thinking after you go figure out how much Google, Apple, Intel et al pay a fresh-out-of-college engineer.)

  • MF says:

    "Also, if you think the "Engineering" part of the job market isn't doing so well, then you might remodel your thinking after you go figure out how much Google, Apple, Intel et al pay a fresh-out-of-college engineer."
    I meant to qualify this by saying that some parts of the engineering market (computer science/electrical) are still doing OK while graduates in others areas (mechanical, civil, and even petroleum engineering) are having a difficult time finding jobs.
    "Even if traditional academic science jobs are declining in number (due primarily to Republican idiocy; see above), is it really a bad thing to have more PhDs? There are other career paths. Having trained scientists in those careers is good for us."
    That is a good point. So I should not feel bad about training more PhDs in my lab than the number that can reasonably hope to find either faculty or industrial positions?

  • drugmonkey says:

    MoBio-

    1) I am pretty sure the only typing error is the lack of coding in the sarcasm font

    2) I am pretty sure that dsks has identified in the past as a dirty foreigner

  • zb says:

    "In short, foreign labor might be cheaper when Johnny Foreigner is laboring in his country of origin, but it largely ceases to be so when he moves to the US and must incur the same cost of living as his domestic competitors."

    The missing part of this view of the labor equation is the access to the US Visa the post-doc/research job offers. The visa is significant compensation on its own. And, the labor market is skewed in the sense that those visas are fairly standard to come by (i.e. if you have a PhD and can find a lab willing to hire you, the visa is easy, easier than many other ways of entering the US ).

    I still think that science needs to be an international labor market for ideological reasons of the free exchange of ideas, but I also believe that the labor market for science, as opposed to, say, law, business, investment banking, . . . . is skewed by the value of the visa and the ease of obtaining it.

  • zb says:

    Does that graph include ARRA funds? That's one of the ways that the Democratic controlled government tried to mitigate the downturn of government funding in the midst of the worst recession in modern times. I know ARRA had a significant short term impact on many labs I'm aware of, and, in some cases kept labs going (though it was selectively targeted towards labs that were already funded/functioning).

  • drugmonkey says:

    Yes, the "Stimulus funding" label shows you where ARRA is. What? You can barely see anything? Yeaaaah....

  • physioprof says:

    Stimulus funding allowed me to hire a "dirty foreigner" who did beautiful work in my lab, and is now a permanent resident medical resident at an elite medical center.

  • Grumble says:

    "So I should not feel bad about training more PhDs in my lab than the number that can reasonably hope to find either faculty or industrial positions?"

    Do educators in any other field worry about this?

    Do CEOs worry that all those managers working for them won't all eventually become CEOs themselves?

    Do business managers fret that not all of their workers will eventually become managers?

    Do generals agonize over the problem of not enough general jobs for all the colonels?

  • Lady Scientist says:

    "Which is why smart ambitious american kids are going into finance or becoming MD-specialist (dermatology is the largest waste of talent that the world has ever seen)"

    I'm not going to comment on other parts of your comment that have already been commented on, but why isn't finance a waste of talent? Anyone care to explain why recruiting scientists and mathematicians to finance is better than recruiting them to work on more important things, like saving the world from human activity that's accelerating climate change?

  • MorganPhD says:

    When someone asks a question like "what is the effect of foreign scientists on the prevailing wage and career prospects of natural US citizens", all ACTUAL scientific discourse is thrown out the window and the conversation devolves into anecdotes about great foreign-born scientists we know or xenophobic/racist comments about dirty foreigners.

    My personal opinion is that science (especially academic science) isn't a special flower and doesn't need a special visa program for recruiting PhD holders or "staple a green card to your PhD"-type programs. This is especially true with the acceleration and absolute increase in the number of PhD's awarded outside the US. It's not racist to talk about immigration policy; it's racist to be a racist.

  • Jonathan says:

    "First, the primary source of salaries for research labor is the government, not the private sector, and thus its shielded from direct exposure to the labor market forces that influence the private sector."

    Actually, 70% of postdocs are paid through R01s not direct grants, and while NIH can recommend a salary level institutions are by no means bound by it. When I was a postdoc at TSRI shortly after the doubling, NRSAs were ~$36k/yr but Scripps only recommended the minimum salary of $28k because that was just enough under CA law to prevent overtime laws applying.

    I was also chair of the NPA's international postdoc committee for several years (when I was obviously much more pro letting everyone come here and work) and we heard lots of cases of postdocs (usually from China or India, working in hothouse labs) getting paid far less than that and being told to go back home if they complained. AFAIK when I was at the University of Kentucky as a postdoc there was no minimum salary for postdocs. And lets not forget, if you're not a US citizen you're not eligible for F32 or T32 funds. And believe you me, salaries for postdocs on soft money at UK were nowhere near as good as they were at Scripps (although the much lower cost of living offset that to some degree).

    Sure, things are different at the PI level, but there are MANY more postdocs in the system than PIs.

  • Jonathan says:

    Damnit, meant AFAIR, not AFAIK.

  • MorganPhD says:

    @Grumble,
    You are comparing jobs to a "training" position. Or you're comparing college or graduate school to a non-degree granting position. If you don't care about the career prospects of the people you train, just hire a technician or staff scientist and stop contributing to the problem.

  • MorganPhD says:

    Never mind, I forgot you can't hire techs or staff scientists without paying benefits, so just go ahead and hire a postdoc.

  • odorlessopie says:

    @Grumble, of course CEOs don't care. They're sociopaths. @Morgan, some would argue that if you care about the career prospects of your trainees, you shouldn't accept new graduate students.

  • jmz4 says:

    "So I should not feel bad about training more PhDs in my lab than the number that can reasonably hope to find either faculty or industrial positions?"

    Not if they know what's going on, no. Ive got no regrets about getting a PhD. This is likely to remain true even if I'm forced out of research.

    I think its smart to keep the focus on the PI level. Having too many postdocs is a problem, but its not really on ethat hurts the system (yet). Also the nih has pretty limited control over it. When a 5 year lab closes, however, the system really suffers, because you lose all those investments and promising research avenues. Stopping mid level PIs from shuttering should be the focus of the way NIH allocates its currently limited funds.
    If this means sunsetting some older labs, fine, if this means restricting university hires by not paying soft money spots, also fine. What's not cool is just sitting there pretending there's no problem, or deflecting it onto immigration or "riff raff" cluttering up study sections. Or putting out endless calls to discussion, or tinkering with the bio sketch.
    The nih has known this is an issue for 5 years now, the fact that they haven't done anything meaningful to redress the situation is a complete dereliction of their duties.

  • E rook says:

    I had a conversation with a mentor yesterday and we touched on this issue. She expressed that the NIH (leadership) has failed over the past two decades in securing a place in the hearts/minds of congress. I countered that NIH is directed by congress to exist and told what to do, and can't lobby congress. She said there are workarounds. I thought for a second and reflected that in the past couple years, Insel has been out doing the lecture circuits, blogging, and did a TED talk. But that doesn't seem to be enough. NIH needs to win the hearts/minds of the public...there's a 2 years turnaround time in congress ... needn't lobby congress directly. Lobby the people we serve. The DOD has inspiring "be all that you can be" recruiting commercials for all branches of the military, NASA has rocket launches, tweets from Mars, and the endearing video of mohawk guy from the JPL. NIH failed to message its value to the public. We need a mohawk guy or something to capture the public's interest and imagination. And no, lecturing to other scientists isn't going to cut it. Our professional societies, I feel, have failed in this regard too. It'll probably take a generation to fix, but in the meantime, the policies are leading toward NIH being content with smaller budgets, and fewer scientists. Universities that get NIH funding need to communicate the value that NIH has brought to their missions & campuses. Faculty (and not the adjunct/insecure kind) need to direct their admin on this, too. It'll be a slow process, but worth it, in the long run.

  • […] morph in unusual—and sometimes inconvenient—ways, making it tough to find clothes that fit “We’ve seen it all before, this is just a cyclical downturn for the NIH funding” How The Measles Virus Became A Master of […]

  • AcademicLurker says:

    E rook: I think a big problem is the rise of glibertarian "The government can't do anything right!" thinking over the last decades. I've seen people flat out deny that any advances in medicine come from NIH research and that "all the real advances come from private industry" while government sponsored research "just wastes money". Some people will insist on this even when folks from the biotech/pharma industries tell them it's nonsense. They just stick to the talking points.

  • Dave says:

    The STEM 'shortage' is for the most part a complete scam pushed by (mostly) large tech firms looking to increase H1B quotas. This is probably the best and most recent paper on the issue:

    http://www.epi.org/files/2013/bp359-guestworkers-high-skill-labor-market-analysis.pdf

    For every two students that U.S. colleges graduate with STEM degrees, only one is hired into a STEM job

    ^says it all really.

  • MorganPhD says:

    @ odorlessopie,
    I think we've had a recent natural experiment with respect to the perceived role of graduate students by university administrators and faculty. With the recent funding crunch, and especially with the pre-ARRA stimulus funding, my and (anecdotally) other graduate programs cut back hard on recruitment of PhD students because they couldn't pay for them.

    There was also a specific cutback on non-US citizen recruitment, as funding sources for them were limited. I don't think universities did this because they were concerned about outcomes, except for the outcome of "we can't pay for this person".

    Universities will never choose to cut back on graduate student or postdoc #'s unless forced to through political action (reduced funding or increased regulation).

    Graduate and postdoctoral training #'s shouldn't scale with # of R01's held by the PI, but I'm pretty darn sure they do.

  • lurker says:

    E Rook: "We need a mohawk guy or something to capture the public's interest and imagination."

    Well, we have Dr. Francis Collins of NIH Sings the "Sequester Blues
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbJ8wEhlsvc

    We who are below Collin's generation are so Fucked. Meanwhile, Collin's generation will be able to carry on, strumming their guitars and giving us their crocodile tears and telling us it's just another cycle.

    We might as well as say: "See you on the other side...."

  • anonymous PI says:

    With regard to foreigners in the US scientific enterprise...

    Everywhere that I've ever worked there have been PIs who have armies of "visiting students" from their home countries who get paid minimum wage, wear the same clothes every day, hoard free food, and rarely leave the lab. This is reality. Not racism. As a PI, I get emails from foreigners from countries across the globe offering to volunteer in my lab or work for next to nothing, and there are plenty of ways to make it happen that are perfectly legit with human resources. I can see how an American postdoc might think that she should be hired rather than those five visiting students since the work is supported by American taxpayers. On the other hand, it's better bang for the NIH buck to have five people working for the price of one American. It's a tricky situation and bringing it up doesn't make you racist.

  • Neuro-conservative says:

    E Rook is right, broadly speaking. Don't need a gimmicky mohawk guy, but just need to demonstrate value to the taxpayer. Part of that means increasing the clinical/translational focus of the work, and increasing the focus on diseases that actually have large effects on life & health of Americans. Bunny-hoppers may need to find other areas to focus on. And we need to stop circling the wagons when the taxpayer's representatives call out silly research on the sex lives of shrimp exercising on treadmills in Thailand.

  • Juan Lopez says:

    Anonymous PI, bringing something up doesn't make you xenophobic. But talking about foreigners as the cause of the problem, or dismissing them as individuals to group them into "armies" that are dirty and hungry does approach it. I don't see why that postdoc you mention has done anything more to deserve the tax dollars, other than winning the birthplace lottery. if she works hard, and is a good writer, she can get the job. She already has many advantages.

  • CD0 says:

    Anonymous PI, to obtain a J1 VISA (entry level for most foreigners) you really need to show a minimal salary commitment by your employer. If there is somebody working with a VISA for free at your institution, that's highly illegal and must be immediately denounced.

    I run what I believe is a competitive research program at a great institution and I would love to have an all American lab. Because citizens and permanent residents have access to training grants , fellowships and K awards that are out of reach for visitors. The problem is that I do not find enough of them to cover all the positions. And I need to find ways to recruit "foreigners" from places that I do not know well and cover their full salary from my grants. Some of them are great and some of them should not be here, but I do not invite them because they are "cheaper". The rest is bigotry.

  • AcademicLurker says:

    @Neuro-conservative: Disagree. I think a much better approach is to be more active in drawing attention to the therapies, drugs & etc. that already exist that wouldn't if not for NIH sponsored research (that would be approximately all of them).

    As for more-translational-less-bunny-hopping, apart from what seems to me to be the obvious wrongheadedness of cutting of the the source of new targets and mechanisms, if you're convinced that your research focus is so clearly disease relevant that it can't be Proxmired, I think you might be unpleasantly surprised.

  • Neuro-conservative says:

    @AcademicLurker - The two approaches are not mutually exclusive, but I think you overestimate the public's willingness to accept a vague hand-wavy defense of all basic science as essential to all clinical results.

    The relative balance of basic vs clinical, and across various areas of focus, has not been fundamentally rethought in decades, and certainly not in the era of declining budgets. I think such a review should be the primary focus of Francis Collins in the remaining 2 years of his term.

    Your slippery slope argument about any line of research being Proxmired is so silly that I am sure you don't really believe it.

  • anonymousneuro says:

    Grumble says: "Not to mention that Dubya is not the Tea Party. Republicans were willing to spend on the NIH during the W years and before. Now they aren't anymore, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. The Republican party is not the same as it was 10 years ago."

    The relationship between science and congress does not occur in a vacuum. It is a dialogue. And funding-wise the republican congress was very good to the NIH (despite a recession) until dems took over in 2007.

    Now, however, political polarization in the academic community (the *most* liberal job field) has become so extreme that many scientists take every opportunity to be openly and irrationally critical of Republicans (cf this blog). This attitude isn't a mystery. So why *should* a republican Congress support science at this point? We can screech about difficult to defend virtues all we want, but I'm sure they are well aware who their voter base is... and it isn't scientists. The shitty attitude towards republicans (many of whom have historically supported scientific research well in excess of the dems) is moronic and self-defeating and needs to be changed.

  • MF says:

    I believe that the focus has long been shifting to translational research - the number of non-clinical study sections has been decreasing. At the same time, I heard a presentation from a Genentech representative claiming that the industry will not be able to continue developing new drugs if there is no basic research to provide a pipeline of targets and mechanisms.

    I do fairly translational research but have plenty of collaborators who have great model organism systems that are very useful for our projects yet have a hard time getting funded... It's a shame.

  • AcademicLurker says:

    Your slippery slope argument about any line of research being Proxmired is so silly that I am sure you don't really believe it.

    On that we'll just have to agree to disagree. I'm incredulous regarding your incredulity:)

    More generally, I can't recall a time in my career when it hasn't been fashionable to complain about "curiosity driven" research and call for more applied research. I don't understand why people who do this think that they're taking some bold contrarian stance, considering how mainstream it is.

  • anonymous postdoc (shrew) says:

    Sniping at basic research funding as being an unnecessary drain on translational research is a pretty good way of sowing strife within biomedical science that will help no one. As PP would say, Kille the Basic Scientisteese!!! We are fighting for scraps.

    I did my graduate work in a field of neuroscience that I would honestly say has high translational potential, but is not hot. The big names were largely not rapid enough in scooping up fancy techniques and certainly have never been successful at getting their work published in the highest tier journals. I would contrast this to my beloved punching bag, hippocampal epigenetics, which has exactly zippo translational potential if you really think about it, but has obviously been a "hot" field. Ditto a lot of circuit bashing in addiction with opto. It has been clear to me for some time that "translational" (in the sense intended when it is plastered on the front of every new building) does not mean "high potential to lead in the near term to clinical trials", but instead means "high barrier to entry - you must be this rich to ride".

    "Translational" is one of the smarmiest words in science today. Using it as a criterion for what should be funded will only give more latitude to the people who use "translational" as a dog-whistle to make sure the "right" kind of scientists are funded.

  • anonymous postdoc (shrew) says:

    Before SidVic came chugging in on the racist train to immigration station, I had been thinking that previous escalations in science funding have come as a result of the fear of America's global scientific (read: military) dominance slipping. Funding won't change without a Sputnik moment.

    It is difficult to argue that America's scientific dominance is slipping when scientists from around the world still overwhelmingly want to train, work, or collaborate in the US. (It may be slipping in reality, but it is difficult to *argue*.) And frankly, I think it is great that people from all over the world want to come and be educated or do postdoc in America. It is the only good global PR this country has left. And if they want to stay, I can't think of anything wrong with keeping new Americans around who are (by definition) intelligent, skilled, and open to new experiences. Immigration is what this country should be about, damn it.

    That said, funding stays flat until either someone in China (not our bros in the UK or Europe or South Korea, has to be the new red menace) scoops American labs hard on something concrete and devastating and impossible to keep a military secret (Sputnik), OR the year Chinese labs publish more CNS papers than American labs. Either of these events will be sufficiently simple for even Congress to understand the implications. A few Nobel losses might do it too, but I can't think of a more lagging indicator than the Nobel Prize.

  • drugmonkey says:

    The NIH is [no longer funding, shifting emphasis away from] grant proposals on [whatever I do, whatever mechanism I use] and is putting too much into [topic, mechanism, model].

    --every academic ever, since always.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Wait.... Republicans are waging their 4 decade war on all that is decent and right in America simply because the academics don't like them? And they would stop enacting America ruining policy if we would simply stop calling them out for their selfish and hateful hypocrisy on blogs? ...m'kay. Sure, anonymousneuro. Sure.

  • MoBio says:

    "The NIH is [no longer funding, shifting emphasis away from] grant proposals on [whatever I do, whatever mechanism I use] and is putting too much into [topic, mechanism, model]."

    Until they are shifting toward what 'I/we' do...which occasionally does happen.

    That's why it helps to have something more or less ready to go when that does happen.

  • AnthonyCMB says:

    "Wait.... Republicans are waging their 4 decade war on all that is decent and right in America simply because the academics don't like them? And they would stop enacting America ruining policy if we would simply stop calling them out for their selfish and hateful hypocrisy on blogs"

    DM, you essentially just made his/her argument for him/her.

  • Eli Rabett says:

    If a bunny looks at the faculty rosters at non fancy teaching oriented colleges and universities they are heavily weighted to those not born in the US. The reason for this is that an offer of a faculty position at any US institution of higher education was a guarantee of immigrant status.

    Thus, even though the pay was lousy, the teaching loads high, and who the hell would want to live in the middle of nowhere, there was a huge payoff for STEM PhDs who would have to leave the US after their training.

    Since most USians if they go to college, go to such places, one might speculate about how this has translated into attitudes about science and scientists.

  • Neuro-conservative says:

    Y'all are very defensive/combative - perhaps I struck a nerve?

    I am decidedly *not* saying Kille the Basic Scientisteese!!!

    I am calling for an open, transparent, in-depth, and data-driven conversation on the relative balance of the NIH portfolio. We have spent a fair bit of time recently looking at relative balance across age, sex, and racial groups.

    I am saying that we should extend this to content domains and methodological approaches.

    I think we would buy a lot of goodwill by linking funding rates to morbidity and mortality rates in the US. Right now there are considerable distortions brought about by the power of specific lobbying groups.

    I think most domains of basic science will easily be able to justify themselves, but it is reasonable to have an overall framework to balance risk & reward across the portfolio.

    Finally, I think it would be worthwhile to find the few % of all grants in the portfolio that would be really tough to justify to a fair audience. My proposal would be that a committee from NINDS would review the NIMH portfolio, and vice versa (and etc. across all the IC's) to call out potential areas for culling.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Given the burden of addictive disorders and the relative funding levels I totally endorse that N-c! (Sorry cancer.)

  • drugmonkey says:

    As far as supposed selective culling goes, N-c, you are not following this logic far enough dude. We'd end up with no research whatsoever.

  • drugmonkey says:

    ACMB-

    How so? I may have just validated the *assertion* about antiRepublicanism on this blog, but what is the argument, exactly?

  • Jonathan says:

    "Finally, I think it would be worthwhile to find the few % of all grants in the portfolio that would be really tough to justify to a fair audience. My proposal would be that a committee from NINDS would review the NIMH portfolio, and vice versa (and etc. across all the IC's) to call out potential areas for culling."

    Yeah, that will never happen. You think the offices responsible for doing portfolio analyses at each IC have the capacity to take on reviews of other ICs in addition to doing the jobs we're actually hired and paid to do? Take it from me, we most certainly do not.

  • Neuro-conservative says:

    DM - Re: Cancer vs addictive disorders: This is exactly my point. The relative balance of NCI vs NIDA, etc, etc, has not been reconsidered in a million years (ever?). But even within IC's, there are disparities between lung vs breast vs prostate cancer, etc, etc. Why not have a data-driven conversation about this?

    Re: logic of selective culling - I'm not sure I understand your point? Are you making a slippery slope argument? I think it is very clear to any honest observer that there are low-hanging fruit of just dumb studies out there getting funded. With a little political will, a couple of percentage points could be picked up there.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    yes. I am making the slippery slope argument. 95% of NIH funded research is 'clearly trivial and irrelevant' to some significant segment of the population. particularly when grants are considered one by one.

    Why not have a data-driven conversation about this?

    I'm pretty sure my work comes out on the good side of that conversation so I'm all for it dude. Endorse.

  • Grumble says:

    "Now, however, political polarization in the academic community (the *most* liberal job field) has become so extreme that many scientists take every opportunity to be openly and irrationally critical of Republicans (cf this blog). This attitude isn't a mystery. So why *should* a republican Congress support science at this point? We can screech about difficult to defend virtues all we want, but I'm sure they are well aware who their voter base is... and it isn't scientists. The shitty attitude towards republicans (many of whom have historically supported scientific research well in excess of the dems) is moronic and self-defeating and needs to be changed."

    HAHAHAHA!

    Republicans hate us 'cause we're libs? Huh, maybe. So we scientists should start embracing the Republican version of science? No climate change, no evolution, no contraception to reduce teen pregnancy? Or maybe we should just shut the fuck up about these things and let the Repblican majority have their way with them?

    Frankly, I'd rather have the Repubs eliminate the NIH entirely and force me to move to China to remain employed as a scientist than let their falsehoods go unanswered and uncriticized.

  • anonymous postdoc (shrew) says:

    Neuroconservative - how is your assertion that there are some number of "just dumb studies" being showered with cash to be squared with current grant success rates? Funding rates would suggest that no IC has the latitude to be funding anything dumb.

    Also, suppose we go through with your review scheme. You seem to be suggesting that NIMH must not be able to steward its own funds, and would require NINDS to swoop in and tell them what's what. Or vice versa. But what about the issue that they have different missions, different internal politics, and different external pressures? Is NIDA supposed to tell NIAAA how to do its job? Is NIA in charge of reviewing NICHD? "This study is interesting, but instead of neonates, why isn't it being done in old farts? From where we sit, that would be more informative." Your idea would serve to further homogenize science into only funding what absolutely everyone could agree on. And since the most interesting science often occurs in contentious fields...

  • Neuro-conservative says:

    The whole point is to have a fresh look at portfolios independent of the internal politics and external pressures. A bit like the base-closing commission. I think are mature enough to perform such a review while respecting the mission of a given IC.

    Regarding the tight paylines - the problem I am referring to is a function of inefficiencies and accumulated detritus in the structures of CSR and the IC programs. Sure, only the top 10% of all bunny-hopping grants may get funded, but does it advance the mission of American health to fund any grants that measure how far bunnies can hop?

    The NIH is a $30B enterprise. Finding just a few percent to re-balance could free up a billion dollars.

    If you are at all nervous that your science could not survive such a review, then perhaps you should reconsider your next set of aims.

  • anonymousneuro says:

    "No climate change, no evolution, no contraception to reduce teen pregnancy? Or maybe we should just shut the fuck up about these things and let the Repblican majority have their way with them?"

    Yes, actually, do shut the fuck up and see what happens. My guess: studies of evolution, teenage contraception and climate change research (whatever that actually entails) continue with increased funding and, in the latter case, more transparency. Again, Republicans fund the NIH *very well* in historical terms.

  • E rook says:

    In my opinion, it is a sad, sad day that an academic considers withholding their opinion on matters of societal import to appease the misguided egos of a political party. In fact, I'd say it's derelict of duty and cowardice of the highest order.

  • Grumble says:

    "My guess: studies of evolution, teenage contraception and climate change research (whatever that actually entails) continue with increased funding and, in the latter case, more transparency. Again, Republicans fund the NIH *very well* in historical terms."

    You are truly hilarious. Which party has more politicians who are creationists? Which party has more politicians who want to prevent or obstruct evolution from being taught in school?

    In historical terms, Republicans were also the party of Lincoln - you know, fight a war to end slavery and all that. And yet now they are the party where the most vile racists find a home. So I don't really give a crap about what Republicans have done in historical terms. Historically, funding the NIH and many other government agencies was a noncontroversial bipartisan effort. That is no longer true, and it is not the Dems who are the party of shrink-the-beast.

    Also, what E rook said.

  • GM says:

    Neuro-conservative February 19, 2015 at 11:52 pm
    "E Rook is right, broadly speaking. Don't need a gimmicky mohawk guy, but just need to demonstrate value to the taxpayer. Part of that means increasing the clinical/translational focus of the work, and increasing the focus on diseases that actually have large effects on life & health of Americans".

    This is the equivalent of curing the patient with an euthanasia...

  • Neuro-conservative says:

    Silly hyperbole does not advance the discussion, GM. Nobody is talking about eliminating -- or even sharply reducing - basic science. I am suggesting a data-driven conversation about rebalancing the portfolio.

    Why are so many basic scientists hyper-sensitive about this? The lady doth protest too much...

  • GM says:

    Yes, I am insecure - I am insecure in my own ability to brazenly lie that my research is relevant to the economy or the health of people, which means that other people who are better liars than I am will get ahead (without their own research necessarily being better than mine).

    I am also insecure about the future that getting on that slippery slope might eventually bring - when it will not be possible to secure funding for the kind of things I want to study even by lying about their relevance.

  • Neuro-conservative says:

    Uh...maybe you should not be using the taxpayers' money to satisfy your private curiosity? I think that is the whole point here.

  • meshugena313 says:

    NC, how will you quantify the long-term role in human health for basic curiosity driven research? From my own frog hopping, I'll tell you that an obscure activity I observed in amphibian cell extract 10 years ago directly lead to current drug discovery work my lab is doing with substantial potential for human health (I'm competing with a number of pharmaceutical companies). If my prior work had to be quantified for potential translational application at the time, it may have been discarded.

    Now I do agree that since society is funding our work (and letting us pursue our idiosyncratic curiosities), we do owe society a valid justification for funding. But I think we need a retrospective analysis first - how many discoveries with direct human health relevance were first discovered by accident?

    And why shouldn't scientists use taxpayers' money to pursue our own curiosity? Isn't that the historical role of scientists? We're not engineers - by definition we're trying to answer questions!

  • GM says:

    Neuro-conservative February 21, 2015 at 1:59 pm
    Uh...maybe you should not be using the taxpayers' money to satisfy your private curiosity? I think that is the whole point here.

    I am not even going to talk about all the useful things that have come out of bunny-hopper research (that is, basically all of molecular biology and biotech today), that death horse has been thoroughly beaten countless times.

    I will just say that the reason we need bunny-hopper research is the same reason most normal people think that we should study history and try to understand it objectively, rather than just indoctrinate the population into whatever sociopolitical ideology rules at the moment. Because if you want to know where you're going, you need to know who you are and how you came to be, otherwise you may end up somewhere you might not particularly like.

    This applies to the natural sciences too, and because human society is such a tiny subsystem of the natural world, on which we depend for everything, understanding where we fit within that world is actually a lot more important even than understanding history. And that means a lot of bunny hopper research. Of course, you can say that it is not NIH's job to fund that, and I would not disagree. But I don't see anyone pushing for doubling, quadrupling, and so on of NSF's budget...

    BTW, the consequences of not understanding those things can be so dire, that my euthanasia comment above is not at all a hyperbole, I actually mean that in a literal sense. Because nobody in this society pays any attention to the evolution of life on this planet and the major crises in it, we are on course towards potential self-inflicted premature extinction as a species.

    I don't give a damn what research society wants funded - first, society is not qualified to evaluate those things, second, it absolutely does not matter whether we find a cure for diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer in the next 20, 50, 200 or 500 years - how much does it matter whether someone's life can be prolonged by a few years on a grand geological scale? It is completely irrelevant, even more so compared to the really important issues we have to deal with it very urgently. We would like to have tens and hundreds of thousands of years to figure these things out, but instead we are on course to not only destroy all the knowledge we have accumulated so far, but also destroy our future ability to regenerate it (it's hard to build up and maintain a complicated research infrastructure when the climate has gone to shit, and all the easily extractable concentrated resources have been exhausted).

  • E rook says:

    I think in university press releases, bi-lines, signage on lab doors, and in conversation, NIH funded investigators should identify their research as being "NIH research(er/lab) at [insert Dept, Uni]" etc., so that people know where the money comes from. It shouldn't be an afterthought. That's one step. Scientists doing interviews or writing should talk about this first, too. NIH needs to be elite, imagination-capturing, inspiring, aspirational; the way NASA was when we were kids and the way JPL is now. Get the public back, and we'll (eventually) get Congress back.

  • Philapodia says:

    From the new Albert's et al PNAS offering: "Although the participants found it difficult to agree on specific remedies to rebalance the enterprise and create a sustainable system in the future, many interesting ideas were aired that would benefit greatly from better data, more rigorous analysis, and experiments designed to test the consequences of some of the specific changes proposed."

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25691698

    More data and more rigorous analysis isn't going to convince congress to open up the purse and give more money. Congress critters aren't convinced by graphs, they go with their guts and what they think their electorate (well, donors) want. They want symbolism that they can use to get themselves re-elected, and why should they care about a bunch of whiny scientists who spend their time trying to watch fruit flies to mate (thanks Rand!). Additionally, with an increasingly conservative congress, why should they give all of those liberal professors at universities more money?

    Maybe the NIH should start requiring that all NIH funded investigators wear lab coats with the stars and stripes on them, perhaps made out of flags. Require us to drink from "US Sceince Rulez!" coffee mugs with bald eagles on them. Require us to do infomercials stating how our research is keeping the country safe from [name your wedge issue].

    On a serious note, I think the NSF has the right idea trying to get it's investigators out into the public with outreach efforts. While not perfect, it gets their message out more than the NIH does. NIH funded investigators come off as snobby because we can't be bothered to interact with the unwashed masses.

  • Neuro-conservative says:

    @meshugena313 - I agree that it is difficult to quantify, and at a first pass I am looking for very gross/broad characterizations which might help us: 1) identify low-hanging fruit for culling; and 2) perhaps create a broad taxonomy of types of basic research that can become bins within the portfolio.

    I am very interested in your story. When you initiated the amphibian cell research that led to your observation, were you absolutely *not* thinking at all about the potential applications for health? Or did you have a general scientific vision (even if it might have felt like a very vague, hand-wavy, "science-fiction" scenario) that led you to believe that looking at cell X might yield some insights into disease Y?

  • meshugena313 says:

    @NC - absolutely no thoughts about potential health applications, pure curiosity driven research. Of course the general general topic had hand wavy medical application (as we'd put in the bullshitte "Narrative"). I'm sure many of us on this blog have had similar experiences.

    I'd hypothesize that the majority of medical discoveries started as basic research that had no explicit expectation of application for human health.

    As the Isaac Asimov aphorism goes: The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not “Eureka” but “That's funny...”

    In my experience that's definitely been true.

  • I agree that it is difficult to quantify, and at a first pass I am looking for very gross/broad characterizations which might help us: 1) identify low-hanging fruit for culling

    KILL THOSE OTHER GUYS OVER THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111!!!!1111!!!111!!! NOT MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • drugmonkey says:

    Every friggin NIH grant is *someone's* low-hanging fruit in need of culling. How can you not grasp this?

  • Neuro-conservative says:

    That perspective is nihilistic and is simply untrue. In any event, I assure you that the public would not view it that way. Circling the wagons around every Thai shrimp sex study just makes us look out of touch.

    Note also that I am talking about this in the context of a top-to-bottom review of the portfolio. This is a necessary step, but will entail winners and losers.

  • qaz says:

    Except when the Thai shrimp sex study turns out to explain how some new receptor works which turns out to explain how some major disease works and in 30 years turns out to be the one key that provides a cure for something we never thought was curable.

    "Translational science" has to have something to translate from!

    American science has been the envy of the world for three-quarters of a century because we have invested in it and given scientists the chance to chase things. Chasing the latest fad and the "obvious" consequences is a recipe for disaster.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Will you at least admit, N-c, that 100% of vertebrate nonhuman animals research is gone under your democratic culling principle?

  • AcademicLurker says:

    Have we already forgotten about Sarah Palin hee-hawing over those stupid scientists who study fruit flies?

    Yeah...dumb old drosophila. What has that model organism ever done for science?

  • qaz says:

    We need to remember that the anti-science conservatives are stupid about even the obvious translational research. Anyone remember Jindal's attacks on volcano monitoring? Why would we ever want to waste taxpayer dollars on monitoring volcanoes? It's not like volcanoes have ever destroyed any cities. It's not like there are any volcanoes that could disrupt our transportation-based-economy, amiright?

    The fact is that trying to figure out what to cull is the same losing battle the centrist democrats have been waging for decades (give in to this cut and figure out how to make do without). We need to defend the peer-review scientific process in which we decide what is the best thing to study based on what is the most interesting and most important currently open question, NOT because we think it will appeal to some businessman's desire for something to provide him immediate profit.

  • neuropop says:

    Oh, please Lord! Not this debate again! By this yardstick, one should never fund anything those stupid, out-of-touch mathematicians do. This as I slough through the absolutely brilliant "On computable numbers with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem!" Of no use whatsoever, except that it formalized the notion of a general purpose computer and inspired Johnny von Neumann to build one which then led eventually to this machine that I am typing on. The bloke who wrote it? Committed suicide. None other than Alan Turing.

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