Drugmonkey http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org Grants, research and drugs Wed, 29 Jul 2015 17:21:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Who are you, what are you doing here and why are you looking at me??? The Reboot http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/07/29/who-are-you-what-are-you-doing-here-and-why-are-you-looking-at-me-the-reboot/ http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/07/29/who-are-you-what-are-you-doing-here-and-why-are-you-looking-at-me-the-reboot/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 17:19:04 +0000 http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/?p=8160 It's that time again, Dear Reader.

This post is a meme for you, the readers of this blog, to take more than the usual spotlight you enjoy here in the comments. This is especially for you lurkers (in case you didn't notice, the email field can be filled with nonsense like dev@null.com). For the the veterans, yes I know who you are but feel free to update us on any changes in the way you interact with the blog...especially if you've lost touch with the content, been dismayed or just decided that I'm not who you thought at first, ideas-wise.

1) Tell me about yourself. Who are you? Do you have a background in science? If so, what draws you here as opposed to meatier, more academic fare? And if not, what brought you here and why have you stayed?

2) Have you told anyone else about this blog? Why? Were they folks who are not a scientist?. Ever sent anything to family members or groups of friends who don't understand your career?

3) How did you find us and how do you regularly follow us? through Twitter, Facebook and/or other beyond-RSS mechanisms?

If you blog, and I know many of you do, go ahead and post your own version of this. Take the time to get to know your audience and ask the lurkers to come out and play. You'll be most pleasantly surprised how many take you up on it.

[This is all the fault of Ed Yong. Head over the the last iteration to see all the gory details and links to prior comment threads.]

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Applicant fantasizes about visiting the study section meeting during discussion of his grant application http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/07/28/applicant-fantasizes-about-visiting-the-study-section-meeting-during-discussion-of-his-grant-application/ http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/07/28/applicant-fantasizes-about-visiting-the-study-section-meeting-during-discussion-of-his-grant-application/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 18:51:42 +0000 http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/?p=8154

h/t: Namaste_ish

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Yes, it was the methylone that killed him http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/07/28/yes-it-was-the-methylone-that-killed-him/ http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/07/28/yes-it-was-the-methylone-that-killed-him/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 18:17:39 +0000 http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/?p=8150 StructureFig-mdma-vs-cathinones450A new Case Report verifies the lethal potential of methylone (PubMed). This drug is also known as beta-keto-MDMA (bk-MDMA; Wikipedia) or 3,4-methylenedioxycathinone. In short, this is the closest cathinone cousin to MDMA, aka Ecstasy.

Barrios L, Grison-Hernando H, Boels D, Bouquie R, Monteil-Ganiere C, Clement R. Death following ingestion of methylone. Int J Legal Med. 2015 Jun 13. [Epub ahead of print]

The decedent was a 21 year old man reported to ingest methylone and cannabis. Friends placed him in a "nearby children's paddling pool" upon report of breathing difficulty and polypnea (rapid breathing, panting).

By the time emergency medical services made contact he was in cardiac arrest.

Investigators were able to procure a sample of the powder the decedent consumed, represented to him as ecstasy upon purchase.

The toxicological screening was negative for alcohol or "medication", opiates, cocaine and amphetamines (including MDMA, MDA, MBDB and MDEA). This individual was positive for THC. The screening for substances by GC/MS identified a substance with characteristics identical to the seized material which the decedent had ingested- methylone with a purity of 83.3%.

Now admittedly a cardiac arrest with labored breathing is not right down the main line of clinical findings in MDMA overdose cases. So this is a bit strange. However, "sudden collapse" or "found unresponsive" is not atypical as the triggering observation that the person on MDMA is in trouble. There are also numerous studies showing adverse effects on MDMA on aspects of cardiac function. Similarly, cardiac implications are common with methamphetamine-related deaths- both acutely and apparently as a consequence of longer term use.

So there is every reason to think that methylone might be cardiotoxic.

The finding of cardiac arrest triggered a vague memory and luckily these authors cited the paper I was remembering:

Carbone PN, Carbone DL, Carstairs SD, Luzi SA. Sudden cardiac death associated with methylone use. Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2013 Mar;34(1):26-8. doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e31827ab5da.

Now in this case a 19 year old man collapsed while jogging and had a much lower blood level of methylone (0.007 mg/L) compared with the 6.64 mg/L blood levels in the Case reported by Barrios et al. No other drugs were detected, however:

No other drugs were detected in the urine or central blood, including pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDMA, 3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine, phenylpropanolamine, or cocaine and metabolites. Analysis was also negative for several other bath salts including flephedrone, n-ethylcathinone, mephedrone, methedrone, ethylone, butylone, MDPV, and naphyrone.

This was presumably not an effect of acute overdose intoxication but perhaps a lingering effect on heart function caused by the methylone consumed hours before. Hard to know without controlled studies, particularly given the exercise this person was engaged in.

Nevertheless, this new Case Report serves as a reminder that methylone, which is increasingly replacing MDMA in the US market, represents a risk for immediate and lasting adverse health consequences.
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Related Reading:

It was the methylone that killed him.

Methylone, or beta-keto-MDMA, also causes fatality

Various posts on MDMA-related fatality and morbidity

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Citation practices http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/07/27/citation-practices-2/ http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/07/27/citation-practices-2/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 17:22:12 +0000 http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/?p=8148 I think that at some point, protracted refusal to cite relevant work amounts to scientific misconduct.

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Mechanical doping in pro cycling? http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/07/25/mechanical-doping-in-pro-cycling/ http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/07/25/mechanical-doping-in-pro-cycling/#comments Sat, 25 Jul 2015 23:48:31 +0000 http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/?p=8144

Tell me that doesn't look a little bit funny to you.

Background

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Horizon http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/07/24/horizon/ http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/07/24/horizon/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 17:05:40 +0000 http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/?p=8138 Often times in academics we are anticipating a job change in the near future. Postdocs, in particular, since this is supposed to be a temporary job. But faculty occasionally anticipate a job change too. On the market b/c you fear tenure won't fall, to leverage progress into a better job, to jump out of the rat race, to join Administration. 

I give advice based on Yoda's wisdom. 

Yoda: Ready are you? What know you of ready? For eight hundred years have I trained Jedi. My own counsel will I keep on who is to be trained. A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away... to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things. You are reckless. 

No, not the paternalistic grouch stuff. In this he is worse than a greybeard of science. 

No it is the part about doing a good job on what you are currently doing. To me this is the basis for making the future stuff more likely to go your way.  

No matter how removed the anticipated job category, the candidate who has been successful in her previous job is going to look better. 

I entertained the McKinsey thing at one point during my training. Looked into it, saw who they hired and spoke to a friend of a sibling who went that way. They did not want people who had a disappointing career in science up to that point. They knew what CN or S publications meant. They wanted excellence.

Now of course plenty of people get alternative career jobs after a disappointing career as grad student or postdoc. But I think the take away message is that you should maximize your success in whatever job you are doing now. Don't just slack because you plan to be out-o-here in a year. 

Success now increases the chances of getting into whatever next job lies over the horizon. 

There is also the consideration that you may find yourself staying in the job you have much longer than anticipated or desired. A year from now, you don't want to look back and wish you had finished that experiment, paper, grant application or whatever.

Work based on the idea you may still be in this job in a year or three. Sometimes things happen. Maybe the local institution finally steps up and does you a solid. Maybe that firm job offer elsewhere is denied by the Dean or P&T committee. Maybe the University System puts down a hiring freeze.

You'll be better off if you are taking care of business in your existing job.

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Salary Cap and the BRDPI Inflation Estimate http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/07/16/salary-cap-and-the-brdpi-inflation-estimate/ http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/07/16/salary-cap-and-the-brdpi-inflation-estimate/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 03:14:01 +0000 http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/?p=8130 Wow. I last used the BRDPI estimate of inflation in the cost of biomedical research to illustrate how the full modular grant ($250K direct) had not changed and therefore purchasing power had eroded.

Jeff Mervis at Science has a blockbuster observation.

To remind you, the BRDPI is this:

The annual change in the Biomedical Research and Development Price Index (BRDPI) indicates how much the NIH budget must change to maintain purchasing power. The BRDPI was developed and is updated annually by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), Department of Commerce under an interagency agreement with the NIH.

That link also leads you to the data tables where you find the annual rates stretching back to the 50s.
BRDPI-rate

The Mervis article highlights the historical low for FY2012 and reminds us of the cut in the salary cap (maximum amount of an Investigator's salary that can be charged to NIH grants)

Congress passed a spending bill in December 2011 that lowered the salary ceiling for investigators on a standard NIH grant from $199,700 to $179,700.

and concludes with a caution:

NIH enjoys strong support in Congress, and the realization that biomedical inflation largely tracks salary trends, not the sticker price of essential lab equipment and supplies, is unlikely to have a major impact on policy debates. Still, it may behoove biomedical lobbyists to think twice before citing the cost of high-tech science as a rationale for pumping up NIH's budget.

Yeah, I hear that. Let's peer a little closer though.

The NIH Office of the Budget January 2015 overview [PDF] futher anticipates that salary cap is a major driver of the inflation index.

The modest BRDPI growth rate of 2.0 percent for FY 2014 reflects the effect of the NIH extramural investigator salary limitation (“cap”) of $181,500 and an increase on salaries of Federal civilian employees of 0.75 percent for that fiscal year.
The projected 2.2 percent growth for FY 2015 assumes a one percent increase for Federal salaries starting in January 2015, as well as an increase on the extramural investigator salary cap to $183,300.

OK, let's route ourselves back to the NIH Office of the Budget report from January 2013 [PDF] which indeed draws an explicit link.

The modest BRDPI growth rate of 1.4 percent for FY 2012 reflects the effect of the reduction of the NIH extramural investigator salary limitation (“cap”) from $199,700 to $179,700 for that year and the continued freeze on salaries of Federal civilian employees.

However, it also goes on to note other contributions:

The BRDPI growth rate was also adjusted for the growth of stipends and related expenses on fellowships and training awards. In addition, the FY 2012 BRDPI growth is lower than the growth for FY 2011 because the rate of growth of prices for several input categories slowed down in FY 2012 compared with the growth during FY 2011. For inside NIH activities, the categories with slower growth in prices include travel, transportation, printing and reproduction, ADP and other IT services, instruments and apparatus, laboratory supplies, office supplies, utilities, repairs and alterations of facilities, compensation rates for consultants and support contracts. For extramural activities, fringe benefits, travel, equipment, supplies, patient care alterations and indirect costs each showed slower price growth during FY 2012 compared with FY 2011.

Wait. Sooooo, everything contributes a little bit? This seems out of step with Mervis' column. Wait, wait....the 2013 overview continues....

Primarily because of the freeze on Federal civilian employee salaries and the cap on compensation of extramural investigators, the rate of growth of the BRDPI during the years FY 2011 through FY 2013 has been relatively low compared with its historical relationship with general inflation as represented by the growth of the GDP Price Index.

Primarily. So that circles us right back to the reduction in the extramural cap and elimination of Federal civilian salary raises. [You might ask why the Federal civilians did not also suffer salary reductions, merely freezes, eh?] But if we take this as a valid and intended connotation then it would seem Mervis has it right. The salary issues are huge.

I wonder why they didn't just find the dollar figure. How many Investigators funded by the NIH in a given year are paying up to the cap? Multiply that by you favored reduction or increase and boom, you can translate that into new R01s.

The annual Salary Cap numbers can be found here. It seemed to steadily increase from 2005-2010, including that 2008-2009 interval that produced the most immediately prior reduction in the BRDPI. So why didn't salary cap drive the BRDPI that year?

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ladeeeez men http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/07/15/ladeeeez-men/ http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/07/15/ladeeeez-men/#comments Wed, 15 Jul 2015 22:22:04 +0000 http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/?p=8126 After discussing this post at shakesville:

It's difficult to describe what I mean when I say my husband likes women, because it's so rare that we don't even have words for it. And because any words I might use are corrupted by the urgent defense of patriarchal standards, which reject any dynamic that isn't framed to center women as the objects of men.

with certain parties, I conclude that it is worth discussing on the blog.

My thought is this: Isn't this familiar to everyone? I mean when you go to social events there are some men that gravitate towards talking with men and other men that gravitate towards talking with women. There are totally woman-guy and guy-guy phenotypes and they have been obvious since like middle school (and as this post mentions, not just because they are trying to hook up).

Right?

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Mentoring and parenting http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/07/14/mentoring-and-parenting/ http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/07/14/mentoring-and-parenting/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 18:02:19 +0000 http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/?p=8119 Like it or not, your mentoring behavior is intimately tied to the experiences you had as a scientific trainee. Let me rephrase that for emphasis. Tied to the way you experienced your training.

In the very general sense, if you thought something was good for you, you are going to tend to try to extend that to your trainees. And if something was bad for you, you are going to try to avoid that for your trainees.

Obviously, the ability that you have to emulate or avoid certain behaviors of your mentors-of-reference* is not going to be perfect. But let us assume for argument's sake that you can make a fair stab at mentoring the way that you would intend yourself to mentor.

This is not all that dissimilar to parenting, I find. There are obvious ways in which I think my parents did an absolutely bang up job of raising me. They set me on a path of life that is in many ways ideal. A career that is fulfilling, a political and social stance that I am proud of, a strength of will and freedom from many of the family-drama related pathologies that plague many adults. I would hope to provide this type of parenting to my own children. Absolutely.

In the same way, I received great mentoring on topics small and large from several people who were in an instructional or supervisory role over my career up to the point of being appointed Assistant Professor. And, let us face it, up to this very day. I am always learning stuff from people in my field and profession. When I recognize something good that was communicated to me by a mentor, I do try to use that in supervising my own trainees. Of course. Because I want them to be successful.

I also have several very specific things that I resent about the way I was raised. It is no coincidence that I find myself to be taking steps as a parent to avoid treating my kids that way. It helps tremendously that the financial security of my spouse and I is (I think**) greater than that of my parents when I was a kid. But even given that, I parent differently in several ways. And I can tie this directly to my perception of how I was parented. The hope is to, obviously, avoid having my children feel the same sense that they would much rather things had gone another way.

Unsurprisingly, I also have suffered under circumstances as a burgeoning academic that were less than optimal. To the extent I can do so, I try to head these off for my trainees. It should be basic. If you didn't like the effect that a mentoring move had on you, don't do it to your trainees. Right? This is not difficult.

The rub lies in those elements of your life that you see as negatives but that you also believe left you a better person for it. Adversity. Many of us have the sense that facing adversity and overcoming it has strengthened us for subsequent life events that may not be all unicorns and fairy dust. And we worry that if our children do not face and overcome adversity that they will be.....spoiled little brats unable to appreciate their considerable privileges and doomed to an inability to surmount future challenges.

This is my greatest worry as a parent.

Clearly, we spoil the ever loving crap out of our children. Compared to what we had.

It does not escape me for a second that this is a re-run of the drama that played out with my own parents. Who came from adversity greater than the environment that they were able to provide for their children. And there is zero doubt in my mind that one major area of resentment about the way my parents raised me was related to them trying to avoid spoiling the crap out of me. I still think they were wrong and I go the opposite way with my own kids. Probably way overboard the opposite way.

"Spoil" is too strong a word for trainees.

I do think, however, that undergoing adversity during academic training has left me better prepared for a career as a grant funded PI. I have said it before on these pages that I think my sole actual talent for this NIH grant game business is my ability to take a punch. That, I go on to argue, has much to do with my life experiences, most specifically the ones that occurred from graduate school through postdoctoral training.

But I would not wish one single bit of the really bad stuff that happened to me (no, I am not talking about an experiment going wrong one day) on any of my trainees. I would not prescribe any element of suffering as an experience for my trainees.

Because detrimental experiences cause detrimental effects on career.

So am I failing to instill robustness against adversity in my children and my trainees? Heck yeah. But I suppose I figure that this is not my job. Life will take care of the adversity. I prefer to work on the positive side.

I limit myself to worrying about it.

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*There can be indirect mentoring lessons. Of course.

**I don't actually know in comparable real terms. Which is probably closely related to one of the issues here.

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Open Thread http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/07/14/open-thread-3/ http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/07/14/open-thread-3/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 16:34:36 +0000 http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/?p=8117 Whatcha got for me today?

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