This is who is leading the fight for your future in science

Mar 27 2015 Published by under Uncategorized

Tweep @MHendr1cks is killing it. The latest.

The PI R01 age distribution looks like the 2010 one from this PPT file.

The "Jedi Council" is, I believe, the ages of the participants in a 2 day workshop convened by Alberts, Kirschner, Tilghman and Varmus as detailed here (see Acknowledgements).

To make this even more interesting, we can look at the 1980-2013 distributional overlay slide.
NIH1980-2013R01AgePIs

In 1980 the 35-40 year old PI demographic was the immediate pre-Boomer generation but oh, just wait. Stepping forward to 1986 we see...
NIH-1986

another little bump. 1986 minus 40 equals the post-WWII definitinal start of the Boomers. These slides illustrate why strict generational definitions are only roughly accurate...so no need to get too fussed about those precise age ranges. Suffice it to say if you were born between about 1940 and 1953 you were in the awesomely lucky zone. Look at how the shoulder in the distribution at age 35 drops off right around 1988-1990 in the slide deck.

61 responses so far

  • Dave says:

    LOL @ Jedi Council aka Council of Elders. That's going to stick

  • Philapodia says:

    This is like your parents deciding who you will marry since you're too young to make your own decisions. We'll decide how to fix the system for the youngun's own good...

    Data Hound, I do appreciate your being involved in this. Was there any talk at this meeting about why younger PIs weren't involved? We're the ones who have to deal with this system for many more decades and have been feeling the pain most acutely.

  • Curiosity says:

    lulz:

    "most were surprised to learn that the percentage of NIH grant-holders with independent R01 funding who are under the age of 36 has fallen sixfold (from 18% to about 3%) over the past three decades"

    because they live the life of the mind...under the rocks....

  • datahound says:

    It was kind of fun being one of the youngsters in the room...

    Actually, I have been contemplating posting something about the meeting and particularly the follow-up PNAS paper. Unfortunately, I think it is accurate that "most were surprised..." and that was a problem. We spent a fair bit of time going over facts and data that should have been well-known to folks at this level, particularly when coming to such a meeting. It is difficult to get a serious discussion going when participants were not as well prepared as they should have been for such a discussion. I realize I am at advantage since I have been living and breathing this sort of thing for more than a decade, but still...

    There was discussion about the lack of representation and diversity (in almost all dimensions) at the meeting. There are other meeting planned at several places around the country (e.g. University of Wisconsin, University of Michigan) that should be more inclusive (I hope).

  • qaz says:

    The question that we don't know is what the Jedi Council looked like in 1980. Was it also all 55+? OR did it include some young stars as well? Wouldn't that be interesting?

  • Davis Sharp says:

    "Ready are you? What know you? Ready? For 800 years have I trained Jedi. My own council will I keep on who is to be trained."

    Yoda hates Gen-Xers and Millennials.

  • drugmonkey says:

    It is astonishing that those who are so ignorant of basic facts about the NIH extramural enterprise are so confident they know how to fix anything, datahound. This information just continues the jaw dropping trend started by Rockey wrt her blog comments

  • datahound says:

    DM: Perhaps the good news is that, when confronted with the fact that they were not in command of the relevant facts as well as a wide range of opinions (even in this group), the group decided that they do not know how to fix anything (hence, no grand meeting at this point). Of course, the level of knowledge varied across the group.

    I am less sympathetic with Sally Rockey for whom this is a full-time job.

  • Drugmonkey says:

    I hear ya on that one. But there are other ways in which the Jedi Council types have significant influence over many, MANY careers from their positions of ignorance.

  • Susan says:

    I have simultaneously lots of, and no, words.

  • GAATTC says:

    JB, I hope you kindly directed them to the DataHound and Drugmonkey blogs for their edification.

  • Kevin. says:

    Of course it's the kid in Canada from Omaha who is trying to save us.

  • lurker says:

    "This is who is leading the fight for your future in science..."

    That has got to be the most fucking ironic title I've seen on DM's blog. No wonder our GenX generation is going to be fucked! Other than tweeting and blogging behind pseudonyms (me included), we are being led by a tweeper who is identified and pretending to do Rockey's job!?!?! good luck, millenials, picking up any scraps left for you.

    What would be real leading by our Generation is to put some real identity behind our plight! List some names of real accomplished mid-career and just-before-tenure scientists that are on the brink of extinction just because they couldn't win the lottery that is the NIH and NSF. When I am kicked fout of the ivory tower because I can't afford the rent from the lack of a grant, I'll write a letter stating how the Boomers choked us out, and shrugged their shoulders as "oh well". It's time to shame the Boomers and show them who these "seed corn" they have eaten are not just riff raff but real deserving scientists.

    Who would sign such a letter with me?

  • SidVic says:

    letter? pitchforks

  • MHendr1cks says:

    Um, the title refers to the Jedi council. I'm a concerned taxpayer who was ranked very poorly for "Leadership" on my last grant application.

  • Dave says:

    Why don't all of us meet and/or write a PNAS opinion piece together using our blog names? It would be worth it just to see how PNAS would deal with us.

  • dsks says:

    Face it folks, some of us just don't have the midi-chlorians for this racket.

  • Pissedoffgenexer says:

    Wow... Just... Wow. We are supposed to sit by and watch this bunch of pampered douchebags decide how a problem THEY created are going to fix it? These medical types who aren't living paycheck to paycheck? The vaunted PIs that have spent their careers charging personal expenses to their RO1s? These people that had it all handed to them?

    I'm sick and tired of only the grown ups sitting on study sections, holding my career in their wrinkled hands, while giving all the money to their friends.

    I'm sick and tired of the same assholes inviting only their sailing buddies to give the same talks at meetings. They should be more honest and just put up the pictures of their sailing trip to Crete.

    I'm sick and tired of postdocs flocking to their labs with the promise of jobs and papers, only to find they have to wear knee pads to get their positions (this happens WAY more than you think).

    Screw them- cap salaries at 25%. Make them work for a goddammed change.

  • lurker says:

    Um, thanks for "clarifying" MHendr1cks, but let's be accurate here. The "real" Jedi Council went into the fight light sabers blazing and got slaughtered thanks to the manipulations of Palpatine (Collins) and the Imperial Senate (whom are what really make up your Box and Whiskers Plot above). The "shadow" Jedi's here are DM, DH, PT, Ody, and maybe CPP, all fighting the good fight via twitter and blogs. But the tide did not turn until the entire galaxy joined the rebellion.

    A PNAS opinion piece like what Dave suggested is a great idea of a first salvo to start a Generation revolt (I avoid the term war, because that's not what it is). A PNAS letter of opinion, a big list of names of GenX lab casualties, would really bring this topic to a greybeard's attention. Many GenX'ers coming from such greybeard labs, only to now left high and dry.

    As DH had noted in his latest post, he "was disappointed that many participants were not familiar with many important facts and trends that have affected the biomedical enterprise over the past two decades." If the Imperial Senate can feign plausible deniability and ignorance, more can they justify this status quo.

    Dave mentioned he's seen several labs by him shutter their doors, probably highly deserving GenX lab PI's that did everything right except get born a decade too late. Who are these labs you speak of?

    I also know several names of GenX PI's at many other institutes including my own Uni and myself, who are no slouches in terms of achievement and pedigree. We are killing ourselves at this job because even though we all love the thrill of research, we are getting the funding rug pulled out from under us because Boomers won't retire and do something more worthy like use their bully pulpit to lobby Congress for $$ or replace Rockey and fix extramural funding and review.

    No names means no one knows who is suffering or who has lost. No greybeard is going to feel bad for us or feel ashamed if they don't know who we are. In fact, they mostly think we're riff-raff, which are usually nameless. That is why they list people's names on memorials, for impact.

    Like I said, if I'm booted from the ivory tower, I'll out myself in the Opinion piece, so the greybeards that I trained with know what this lack of sustainability has wrought. And I know other bloggers/commenters here are also in money trouble, I suggest you all take the plunge with me when our academic dreams are done. May we all become a generation of Doug Prasher's!

  • SidVic says:

    I have to say that i was shocked with the pie chart showing the amount of money going to the +65 crowd (with the+56 really dominating). I will engage in a little ageism here- but i have noticed a decline in my own faculties (now40s) and a creeping hardening of mental flexibility. The fact is that alot of these old geezers are very good and dedicated scientists. Nonetheless i would much rather have them in their 30-40s than in their 80s. Of course exceptions exist.

    I've seen the effects in the study sections. Many have become sclerotic and conservative. It is possible to search NIH reporter by study section to identify the total grants funded by a particular section. It is enlightening, one quickly finds (in my particular area anyways) that favored approaches/signalling pathways stretching back 30yrs have multiple grants devoted to them. New areas have no, to very little support, (the exception is stem cells- damn what a clusterf*** that's turned into). Also one finds that a limited number of groups have multiple members on the study section and it appears that they are engaged in fairly unsubtle backscratching. 10 years ago i thought that the complaints about the good ol boy/gal network was overblown. I've changed my mind on that score. As things have gotten tight; it appears favors are being called in.

    The other danger is that talented young turks that figure out the game bail out leaving us with a bunch of time -serving hacks, or riffraff if you prefer. It's gotten so i can barely stomach going to meetings and watching these guys with their heads on a swivel looking for an ass to kiss. They call it networking... we should operate like the army- mandatory retirement at 62. Whats wrong with guys- i can't wait to retire.

  • SidVic says:

    I have to say that i was shocked with the pie chart showing the amount of money going to the +65 crowd (with the+56 really dominating). I will engage in a little ageism here- but i have noticed a decline in my own faculties (now40s) and a creeping hardening of mental flexibility. The fact is that alot of these old geezers are very good and dedicated scientists. Nonetheless i would much rather have them in their 30-40s than in their 80s. Of course exceptions exist.

    I've seen the effects in the study sections. Many have become sclerotic and conservative. It is possible to search NIH reporter by study section to identify the total grants funded by a particular section. It is enlightening, one quickly finds (in my particular area anyways) that favored approaches/signalling pathways stretching back 30yrs have multiple grants devoted to them. New areas have no, to very little support, (the exception is stem cells- damn what a clusterf*** that's turned into). Also one finds that a limited number of groups have multiple members on the study section and it appears that they are engaged in fairly unsubtle backscratching. 10 years ago i thought that the complaints about the good ol boy/gal network was overblown. I've changed my mind on that score. As things have gotten tight; it appears favors are being called in.

    The other danger is that talented young turks that figure out the game bail out leaving us with a bunch of time -serving hacks, or riffraff if you prefer. It's gotten so i can barely stomach going to meetings and watching these guys with their heads on a swivel looking for an ass to kiss. They call it networking... we should operate like the army- mandatory retirement at 62. Whats wrong with guys- i can't wait to retire.

  • Philapodia says:

    So it seems that several of our esteemed bloggers/luminaries are at EB this week and there's talk on the twitter about the discussions around careerism. Any chance those of us who couldn't attend can get a rundown on the discussions. I know that y'all are posting stuff on the twitter, but that shite gives me a headache to read.

  • dsks says:

    What?!?!? Why didn't I hear about this? And what's Twitter?

  • Philapodia says:

    The Twitter appears to be the internet equivalent of Tourette Syndrome, where incomplete sentence fragments are the norm and random tics of "@drugmonkeyblog" and "RT" are interspersed randomly. I assume the "@" denotes a loud vocalized tic and "RT" denotes a motor tic, perhaps a leg slap or finger snap.

  • martini says:

    I think it is shocking that there isn't more support for independence of those in their late 20's to early 30's (less than 35)

    Most of my colleagues that are in the 56+ and 65+ categories all got their tenure track positions by their very early 30s at the latest and several had their first grants before they were 30, definitely before they were 35. If they didn't have a grant by 35, they wouldn't have made tenure. Their career paths generally look like:

    Milestone: age range
    BS: 18-21
    PhD 21-26
    Post-doc: 26-28
    TT: 28-30 range
    First grant: 28-34

    With funding rates as high as they are, most had their first grant within 2 years.
    I have two colleagues that had their first grants when they were 27 and 29, respectively. Now, I am ~35 and am considered "very young" for having my own grant.

  • Dave says:

    The thing that bothered me most about the PNAS article was that there was sense of shock about the whole thing on the part of the Jedi Council. It was almost like you could feel a raised eyebrow jumping out of the page.

    They didn't say anything that we didn't already know and they got credit for bringing it to the forefront, when they were probably ripping discussion from this very blog to be honest. In reality, the very fact that they published their opinion in PNAS in such a manner sort of exemplified everything that is wrong in the biomedical workforce.

  • jmz4 says:

    "Now, I am ~35 and am considered "very young" for having my own grant."
    -Yes, you're one of 3% of R01 holders under 36.

  • Philapodia says:

    The Jedi Council may get credit for this because they have the name recognition, and people will listen to them. They haven't felt the pinch until the last 2 years of so, so it's not a surprise that they were surprised by the data. I bet almost none of the Jedi Council (with the exception of DH, of course), has ever bothered to look at these pseudonymous blogs or even know they exist. That's why it's important for someone visible like Jeremy Berg (who they all have heard of AND is a blogger) to write something in a very visible venue that will let the whole community know that this has been a problem for a good while and that we have already been talking about it a lot. This will also help US be a part of the conversation and it's not just the senior people like Fauchi and Alberts talk about it.

  • Dave says:

    Looking at their follow-up PNAS paper, none of their 'solutions' will do anything to actually address the problem within the next 10 years. How much more data do we need (if you know where to look)? How many BSD meetings to we really need before they all wake up and agree we have a problem? Are university presidents the best people to be commenting on this issue, or are they not just part of the problem?

    By the time the BSDs/NIH/Institutions come up with ACTIONABLE solutions, this thing will be over.

  • Dave says:

    By promoting more widespread discussion, connecting with institutional leaders, forming a larger oversight group, and communicating more effectively through a website, we aim to make sustained progress against the various logistical, administrative, and conceptual logjams that have thus far prevented the implementation of effective solutions to the major problems that many have clearly identified

    In terms of fixing the problems, this literally means nothing. They're still talking about identifying the problem.

  • jmz4 says:

    Despite the "duhdoy" factor of the piece, one thing that *is* nice about having very senior people write this, is that it makes other mid-to-late career people take more notice.

    Every time I try to engage a 50+ professor at my "elite" institution about these issues, they handwave it off as disgruntled "riff-raff" or "cyclical funding" that weeds out the undesirables. Having very established and very successful scientists like these guys call shenanigans at least gives the people in the trenches something they can point at and say, "See, *your* the one with their head in the sand."

    "They're still talking about identifying the problem."

    If they do end up continuing to publish pieces critical of the current system, hopefully it will chip away at the armor of smugness* so many PIs seem to be wearing lately. This will be necessary for any changes to begin to occur. Also, much of the professoriate does not admit there's a problem beyond, "too little money", this is a false narrative and it needs to be addressed by people that command enough respect to make people listen.

    *AD&D 3.5 Armour of Smugness: AC +5 against piercing criticism, complete immunity to blog-based attacks. Requires 2 or more R01s and at least five levels in the Full Professor prestige class in order to craft.

    "By the time the BSDs/NIH/Institutions come up with ACTIONABLE solutions, this thing will be over."
    -I assume you're referring to The Cull? How long do you think we have till the funding situation's damaging effect reaches its peak?

  • Joe says:

    @Datahound "There was discussion about the lack of representation and diversity (in almost all dimensions) at the meeting. There are other meeting planned at several places around the country (e.g. University of Wisconsin, University of Michigan) that should be more inclusive (I hope)."

    The one with Alberts et al. hasn't happened yet, but there have been several meetings leading up to that one. There are many students and post-docs at those meetings, and part of each meeting is just for them. I find, however, that the discussions are largely dominated by the older men and that they are unaware of the plight of younger. They seem to completely miss some concepts, e.g., why forcing trainees to be funded by on training grants vs R01s could be helpful.

  • UCProf says:

    Just for those who wonder why the Jedi Council is worried . . .

    I heard one of the Jedi Councilmembers (Shirley Tilgham) state the problem this way, "My university used to offer startup packages that covered one or two years of expenses for assistant professors. Now, we have to cover four to five years of expenses. This is costing us a lot of money."

  • drugmonkey says:

    "Costing us". Take note ye fantasizers of increased Uni support of faculty.

  • Philapodia says:

    @Dave
    "By the time the BSDs/NIH/Institutions come up with ACTIONABLE solutions, this thing will be over."

    Without getting the folks who hold the $$$ to give a rats ass (ie congress), will any of this matter anyway. There isn't a simple solution to the problem, but perhaps more grass-root lobbying efforts from scientists in each state is needed, coordinated by more senior (and influential) scientists. Tell your Congresscritter early and often how the anti-intellectualism that running rampant in our government these days (Ted Cruz is on 5 of 6 of the congressional science subcommittees FFS) is affecting jobs and revenue in your state (backed up by data!) and costing the state money, and if they're not a total asshat hopefully they'll get a clue that it's in their interest to push money into the system.

  • AcademicLurker says:

    @Philapodia

    Agreed, but at the same time I think that any sustainable solution is going to have to include some sort of major restructuring of the system in addition to simply getting more money. The doubling was "more money", after all. And look how that turned out...

  • Dave says:

    There isn't a simple solution to the problem, but perhaps more grass-root lobbying efforts from scientists in each state is needed..

    Ugh not this shit again. Grass-roots? Lobbying? Collins and all major science groups have been butt-licking congress for years, and look what that did for us. The biggest mistake most people make is thinking that congress (i.e. The Baggers) give a shit about science, and especially the public funding of science. They don't, and their actions - not their words - are what matter.

    Have you taken a look at who is in charge in most states?

    None of the REAL solutions are easy. Why should they be?

  • Philapodia says:

    @AcademicLurker

    I agree with that. It will take a major change in how universities view and support research for anything to change. The statement attributed to Shirley Tilgham above indicates that universities (President of Princeton) have viewed research a revenue source that is now waning (crap, we have to pay these youngun's now!) rather than a mission. Perhaps we should also lobby our upper administrations to be more cognizant of how their views on extramural funding affect the overall sustainability of biomedical research. Maybe if they see how their views have altered the funding landscape they see that it's in their interest to approach research more sustainably.

    @Dave
    So the real solutions are what, exactly? Obviously the problem is much, much bigger than just us poor scientists whining about our jobs and careers, and national politics and the public's lack of understanding/interest in science have a major impact on us. Grass-roots lobbying obviously isn't the whole solution but is something that we can actually do that could have at least a little impact. But saying that the Baggers who are controlling the public dialog don't care about science and there isn't a point to trying to change their minds means that they won and we've lost, and we should just give up and die or move to a different country where the public values research.

  • Joe says:

    @ Dave "The biggest mistake most people make is thinking that congress (i.e. The Baggers) give a shit about science, and especially the public funding of science. "

    Have you forgotten that the republicans were the big supporters of biomed research in 90's? Somebody needs to remind them that they did great things for science and that they need to follow through. Somebody needs to remind them that science is not all climate change models and duck reproductive practices, that it is also childhood cancer, female infertility, organ replacement technology, heroin addiction and 10,000 other technological problems that science is working on and will impact their lives as they age as well as the lives of their children and grandchildren. What is the alternative? Do you really expect to replace them with the other party in the next decade?

  • Dave says:

    But saying that the Baggers who are controlling the public dialog don't care about science and there isn't a point to trying to change their minds means that they won and we've lost...

    But that's exactly what has happened.

  • Dave says:

    Have you forgotten that the republicans were the big supporters of biomed research in 90's?

    How is that relevant? Today's Baggers are not your daddy's GOP.

  • jmz4 says:

    Dave, the Tea Party is somewhere between 20-40% of the Republicans in Congress (depending on how you count). They are a minority, and you're caricaturing them, since not even all of them are anti-science (see Rep. Matt Salmon's recent comments in support of increasing funding for cancer research). They're anti-deficits, which is a different story.

    I don't think lobbying is futile, but I do think it needs to come from outside of Washington (i.e. not NIH officials), and it needs to come from the academic and biotech/pharma sectors together. I don't think that Congress or the public in general appreciate the economic benefits that NIH dollars create, both in terms of startups, training, and information that the private sector uses. Getting business interests on board would increase the chances of a lobbying approach working.

    However, I do think that, going back to the original point, we have to get our house in order before we go begging for more money. If they doubled the NIH budget tomorrow, we would still be left in a fundamentally untenable situation. We need a system that is flexible enough to productively utilize high levels of funding, but constrained enough that it doesn't grow to unwieldy sizes. It also needs to be able to weather lean times with minimal loss of returns on previous investment (i.e. can retain trained people and keep good research programs going).

    "How is that relevant? Today's Baggers are not your daddy's GOP."
    -They've still got a huge boner for Reagan, though.

  • Dave says:

    Tea Party = GOP; GOP = Tea Party. There is no distinction for me.

  • CD0 says:

    The views of modern Republicans on science are illustrated by the angry criticisms of Palin, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul,their propagandists in Fox News and many others on research with "flies", or "bears', or what the Republican Chairman of the House Science Committee on Science, Space and Technology defines as "frivolous research": Political review should prevail over peer-review.

    Expecting any improvement on science policies from a GOP-lead Congress is living on denial.

  • Philapodia says:

    @CDO

    And your solution is...? Saying that trying to improve things with the GOP in charge is impossible is a cop out. It's harder now, yes, but if we don't try then you've give up all of your power as a citizen. I refuse to do that, even if you say we're in denial.

    We're scientists! We solve problems for a living, FFS!

  • CD0 says:

    I was simply responding to a couple of colleagues that do not see modern Republicans as the new Inquisitors that they have become.

    I of course support activism and any effort to turn our representatives into advocates for the research enterprise, no matter their color. However, I will be pessimistic until there is no clear change in both chambers of Congress.

    You can argue the way you want, but the latest push for biomedical research came with the stimulus program in 2009. Since the baggers took Congress over, we have gone (vertically) down.

  • Grumble says:

    "[Tea baggers] are a minority, and you're caricaturing them, since not even all of them are anti-science (see Rep. Matt Salmon's recent comments in support of increasing funding for cancer research). They're anti-deficits, which is a different story."

    If Congress refuses to pay for something that requires government funding to survive, then Congress is against that thing. End of story. Anything else is sophistry and bullshit.

  • Dave says:

    Low information GOP voters FTW

  • AcademicLurker says:

    Self-identifying as "not anti-science" is meaningless anyway. Most creationists, homeopaths, and anti-vaxers will insist that they're not anti-science.

  • bagger vance says:

    @Dave, Philapodia: i could make the case that your party doesn't seem to have science as a priority either, at least compared to things they can sell easily to their constituents, like a huge increase in direct benefits like food stamps. How much did SNAP spending increase in the last couple of terms? "Amounts paid to program beneficiaries rose from $28.6 billion in 2005 to $76.6 billion in 2013." Why, that's almost an entire NIH budget! And that's just one program.

    Seriously though, trying to pin research as a partisan issue is always going to get you losing 50% of the time. Do you think the other party is just going to dry up and blow away? Then you might want to co-opt them instead. So super-liberal science types: register as Republicans and vote in primaries.

  • jmz4 says:

    "If Congress refuses to pay for something that requires government funding to survive, then Congress is against that thing. End of story. Anything else is sophistry and bullshit."
    -Sophistry AND bullshit, wow. Or you know, it could just be an accurate portrayal instead of a gross oversimplification of complex attitudes, subject and constituencies. Congress, does, in fact, fund the NIH, so even by your logic, they do support it. They may not support *increases*. But of course, when its budget caught in the warzone along with DHS funding, Obamacare, and a hundred other things, your simple up-down logic becomes difficult to apply.

    Most of Congress is sympathetic towards research funding. Even the Republican budget proposal doesn't call for cuts to the NIH. In fact, it praises it as an important public investment, and calls for eliminating some of the bureaucracy and red tape to free up money, a move most scientists would support (have you filled out an animal protocol recently?). Combined with the fact that 70% of people support spending money on basic research, lobbying is not a doomed effort. You may cynically dismiss it, but being on the right side of the rhetoric is half the battle.

    I get that Republicans are terribly regressive on lots of issues, but no one is helping the cause by demonizing half the politicians in the country because of a few of their loudmouthed colleagues say stupid things. One, it's not an accurate position, and two, it just puts their hackles up.

  • Philapodia says:

    Ah, @bagger vance, you amuse me! Second paragraph of that wiki article reads "SNAP benefits cost $74.1 billion in fiscal year 2014 and supplied roughly 46.5 million Americans with an average of $125.35 for each person per month in food assistance". Last I heard there was about 370 million 'Muricans, so this represents about 13% of our population. I would think this is a good use of funds, as having 13% of our population die from starvation would probably be a bad thing. Dead people can't vote, so it's in politicians interest to keep them alive. This is also an immediate need, whereas most of what we work on is for more long-term problems, so it's harder to convince people to support it. That just means we need to make our case better to the general public.

    "So super-liberal science types: register as Republicans and vote in primaries." - And give them voter fraud for reals? Seems like a shifty thing to do.

    BTW, why is being liberal a bad thing? Please explain why this is an insult. I take it as a complement! (tousles bagger vance's hair)

  • Neuro-conservative says:

    This is pathetic - stop fighting amongst yourselves about politics!

    We need to rapidly implement concrete steps to steer the enterprise in a sustainable direction. I recommended a few on this blog last month.

    If we don't alter the structural dynamics of the workforce, this is all pointless bickering.

  • Philapodia says:

    You're right, NC. I appreciate being called out on this. I guess this goes to show how easy it is to get distracted from the important stuff by silly crap.

  • jmz4gtu says:

    "We need to rapidly implement concrete steps to steer the enterprise in a sustainable direction. I recommended a few on this blog last month. "
    -I think we agree on the types of reforms you've suggested. Dave's point, and I agree, is that there are no steps that we can implement fast enough to cut off the cull that is happening now. If we want to stop that, we'd need a funding increase in the next couple of years.
    I do recommend instituting the reforms first, then asking for more money, since if we do it the other way around the will to enact the reforms will be evaporate.
    But I don't think it's ludicrous to get some people lobbying for an increase in NIH funding.

  • AcademicLurker says:

    I do recommend instituting the reforms first, then asking for more money, since if we do it the other way around the will to enact the reforms will be evaporate.

    Sadly, I think this is likely correct.

  • UCProf says:

    . . . lobbying for an increase in NIH funding. This is probably pointless. Sure, maybe you can get a 5% increase instead of a 2% increase if you are lucky. but that's not going to change things.

    A better strategy is to identify new non-NIH ways of funding biomedical research. Some language in the Obamacare bill gives me hope. I'd have to look it up again, but basically an health insurance company must have a medical cost ratio of 80%, or they have to refund premiums paid. The language is something like they must spend at least 80% of premiums on health care and efforts to improve health care. That seems like a real incentive for those directing the health insurance money to spend on research.

    Health care spending is something like $3 trillion/yr, if you could get 1% of that being spent on research to improve health care , you would match the NIH budget.

  • Philapodia says:

    RockTalk just posted an entry from Jon Lorsch about a new RFI about NIH sustainability. Take a look (and get your FOIA forms ready!)

    http://nexus.od.nih.gov/all/2015/04/02/give-input-on-strategies-for-optimizing/#comments

  • Dave says:

    Politics is not a distraction. It has played a significant role in driving the NIH budget downward. Discussing politics is important.

  • jmz4gtu says:

    " That seems like a real incentive for those directing the health insurance money to spend on research."
    -Potentially very interesting, but I'm envisioning some real conflicts of interest if the insurance companies are directing the studies. Although who knows, maybe it would be a nice foil to pharma companies' inflated clinical trials and studies.

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