Drugmonkey http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org Grants, research and drugs Fri, 27 Mar 2015 20:16:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 This is who is leading the fight for your future in science http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/03/27/this-is-who-is-leading-the-fight-for-your-future-in-science/ http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/03/27/this-is-who-is-leading-the-fight-for-your-future-in-science/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 18:48:06 +0000 http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/?p=7751 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.

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...

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.

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Grants won vs grants awarded on your CV http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/03/26/grants-won-vs-grants-awarded-on-your-cv/ http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/03/26/grants-won-vs-grants-awarded-on-your-cv/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:40:41 +0000 http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/?p=7746 Sometimes you have to turn down something that you sought competitively.

Undergrad or graduate school admission offers. Job offers. Fellowships.

Occasionally, research support grants.

Do you list these things on your CV? I can see the temptation.

If you view your CV as being about competitive accolades. But we don't do that. In academics your CV is a record of what you have done. Which undergraduate University conferred a degree upon you. Which place granted your doctorate. Who was silly enough to hire you for a real job.

We don't list undergrad or grad school bids or the places that we turned down for a job offer.

So don't list grants you didn't take either.

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Do try to keep up http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/03/26/do-try-to-keep-up/ http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/03/26/do-try-to-keep-up/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 18:39:55 +0000 http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/?p=7737 I hope you all have read through the Bridges to Independence (2005) report. Yes? It's freely downloadable and told us a lot about the state of NIH extramural funding, age cohorts and demographic disparities....a DECADE ago.

So when Rockey posts abbreviated data sets.....yeah.

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More data to explain.....attitudes. (UPDATED) http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/03/25/more-data-to-explain-attitudes/ http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/03/25/more-data-to-explain-attitudes/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 21:35:52 +0000 http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/?p=7734 via: http://twitter.com/MHendr1cks/status/580831188820090880


Rockey had posted on the amount of grant money going to age groups, this Tweep divided by the number of PIs in each group. 

I had two immediate thoughts.

When the end of the doubling hit, if you were 50 or under you felt it immediately. 

If you were 56 or older at that point, you didn't feel anything until 2012.

Funny how nicely this maps onto attitudes. We've seen the older types get vocal only in the last 2-3 years and we have been bemused.

My response has been "welcome to the reality the rest of us have been under for a decade." 

Nice to see some actual data confirming that the Boomers really have been insulated from pain until recently. 

UPDATED: More from @MHendr1cks
NIHGrantIncreaseByAgeThe piechart really brings it home, doesn't it?

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420andme http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/03/25/420andme/ http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/03/25/420andme/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 15:10:51 +0000 http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/?p=7730 I just had this genius idea.

A public science service modeled on 23andme where you send in your pot sample for both genetic analysis ("You have new strain-relatives, want to connect and share experiences?") and content of various cannabinoids and what not. Add in some health survey stuff and away we go.

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Someday.... http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/03/24/someday/ http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/03/24/someday/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 15:58:30 +0000 http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/?p=7728 When do I get to that stage where my lab is operated entirely by oppressed trainees who are totally doing the PI job in all ways but name and I get to sit back, eat bonbons and watch my h-index rise? 

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FASEB J backs off their ill considered authorship policy http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/03/23/faseb-j-backs-off-their-ill-considered-authorship-policy/ http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/03/23/faseb-j-backs-off-their-ill-considered-authorship-policy/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 15:45:39 +0000 http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/?p=7724

@betenoire1 @jeremymberg @MHendr1cks @michaelhoffman Thank you for your feedback. The policy has been reviewed internally and removed.

— FASEB Public Affairs (@FASEBopa) March 23, 2015

The offending policy.

Of course, unless they get to the bottom of who asserted that reviewers and AEs who suggest experiments should be added to the author line we have to assume the attitude remains.

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Question of the Day http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/03/22/question-of-the-day-3/ http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/03/22/question-of-the-day-3/#comments Sun, 22 Mar 2015 18:37:42 +0000 http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/?p=7721 Who ARE these people who imagine only one person thought up some good idea in bioscience?

It's about execution not some random thought you happened to express in passing.

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NCI pilots a staff scientist award http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/03/19/nci-pilots-a-staff-scientist-award/ http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/03/19/nci-pilots-a-staff-scientist-award/#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2015 14:21:59 +0000 http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/?p=7702 http://news.sciencemag.org/biology/2015/03/cancer-institute-plans-new-award-staff-scientists

In July, 2007 I wrote:

Create career awards (not fellowships because of the way institutions use this to screw fellows out of the usual employment benefits) for that category of doctoral research scientist who is happy to labor away in someone else’s lab without being a PI. These people already exist, in great numbers and often work through to retirement in nebulous job categories. Let’s recognize that these people are an essential fuel for the NIH engine. It can be on the 5 yr cycle so that productivity is assessed and individuals are accountable to produce. This will create a great deal of independence in these individuals so that they are not beholden to one PI. Think of the side bennies on scientific fraud!

In Aug, 2008 I wrote:

I have a modest suggestion, of course. The K05 mechanism. Or rather, something much like the K05......Suppose something like this were made available for career Ph.D. scientists as essentially a fellowship. Without any requirement for a professorial appointment and minimal actual research component. The important point being that it is applied for, awarded to and evaluated for renewal by the career scientist with every expectation that this is a career award. There would be details of course. You'd have to have a host lab at most times- but allow for transition if one lab loses grant support or something. Nice and easy for the supported career scientist to find a new lab, don't you think? "Hey, PI Smith, I have my salary supported and I'd like to come play in your lab..." would go over quite nicely. Progress could be evaluated just as with any other award, keeping the pressure on for the individual to publish.

I commented at Rock Talking in Feb 2011:

Returning to the OP question about workforce, one of the most profound changes over 30 years is the length of time, sometimes career length, spent in the dark twilight of postdoc/superpostdoc/research scientist/etc in traditional academic settings.

Some could be perfectly happy in such a role if there were a little more career certainty, benefits and insulation from exploitative PIs.

One thing the NIH could do is create a K mech sort of like the K05 but intended for the staff scientist level. Career level benefits required. Has to be renewable too. It could be tied to Rmechs of a lab head (for the primary research support) but it should be easily switched to a different lab w/in the University if necessary. Competitive review would focus on productivity rather than the *specific* project.

I think you can see why I am so excited about what NCI is proposing [video link, start at 2:20] to do as described by Jocelyn Kaiser At ScienceInsider:

The K05 “research specialist award,” as NCI is calling it, would be aimed at scientists with a master’s, Ph.D., M.D., or other advanced degree holding positions such as lab research scientist, core facility manager, or data scientist.

Applicants would need to be sponsored by a PI and their institution. The award could cover up to 100% of their salary, but not research expenses. The 5-year, renewable award also would be “portable” if the recipient moved to another lab or institution.

Notes from the NCI presentation:
at 2:26:30 it is emphasized that this award has to be independent from a PI's grant.

slide at 2:26 notes it would be for individuals including but not limited to : lab research scientists, core facility managers and data scientists.

2:27 slide emphasizes "only to individuals who have made significant contribution to a cancer research program".

2:28 only for that portion of salary devoted to cancer research, expected to be at least 50% effort

[DM- this taps into a sticky point I've mentioned before which is how this is supposed to work for cross-IC scientists. I think they need to work this out better, maybe do it from the OD if necessary. It's all for the good of NIH, right? So they need to work out how to have a scientist be able to jump from a NCI lab to a NIGMS lab if necessary]

2:29 -the research proposal is to be written jointly by the applicant and the sponsoring PI, describing the research.

[DM- I think this is workable even though my eye started to twitch. There is going to be some slippage here with respect to the goals of making this award portable and not tied to the fate of one lab's research grant]

2:29:55 -Initially the Research Specialist to apply while supported on an existing research grant. Once the K05 is awarded, it would be expected to be 50/50 support with the grant and then continuing on the K05 100% once the grant ended.

2:30:30 - Review criteria. Accomplishment of applicant individually and within the nominating lab's program. Accomplishment of the PI and Uni. Importance of the applicant to the research program of the PI.

[DM- Welp. This is certainly going down a road of contributing to the rich getting richer which is not something I support. Unless "importance to the research program of the PI" means helping to stabilize the science of a have-not type of PI who struggles to maintain consistent funding.]

2:31- They are going to launch this via RFA as a pilot program. 50-60 awards planned over an 18 month period.


2:32: slide on portability of the award - possible but requires PO approval if PI and K05 move together, if the PI leaves and K05 stays, if the grant is lost, etc.

if K05 Specialist chooses on her/his own hook to leave old lab, it will require a new PI, approval, etc. The old PI is eligible for 2 year administrative supplement because they are "suddenly missing a critical support component".

[DM- ugh, this last part. Why should the original grant be compensated for the K05 person deciding to leave? It will already have benefited from that 50% free effort. Rich get richer, one. and a reward for that scenario where the PI is such a jerkface that the K05 leaves him/her? no. and regarding "critical support component", dude, what about when any postdoc chooses to leave? happens all the time. can I get some free money for suddenly missing an awesome postdoc?]

2:36 on assessment of the pilot. "critical to get input from the PI about how well their needs have been served"

[DM- well sure. but...... grrrr. this should be about the K05 awardee's perspective. The whole point is that the existing system puts these people's careers into the hands of the big cheese PI. That is what the focus should be on here. The K05 Research Specialist. Not on whether the PI's loss of control has allowed him or her to continue to exploit or whether this is just a way to shield the haves of the world from the grant game a little bit more.]

Bar-Sagi: Restrict the applicants to PhDs? Should Core Directors be excluded (because business model of the U makes security different)? 2:39:20- situation where it "backfires" on the lab

Golub: "but, the quid pro quo is that they (the staff sci type) exchange the lack of obligation to raise their own salary for the lack of independence". wants to know if somehow this is a bait and switch

[DM- well yeah, but that ship has sailed. the goal here is to fix the part where staff scientists can no longer rely on the BigCheese just being endlessly funded forever with out interruption]

2:46 Gray: " a mechanism by which one could survive a hiccup in funding".

[DM ugh- the "one" here is clearly meant as the PI. Sooooooo focused on the PI and not the K05 person.....]

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Your Grant in Review: Future Directions http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/03/17/your-grant-in-review-future-directions/ http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/2015/03/17/your-grant-in-review-future-directions/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2015 21:21:32 +0000 http://drugmonkey.scientopia.org/?p=7700 One of the most perplexing thing I have learned about the review of 5 year R01 NIH grant proposals is a species of reviewer that is obsessed with Future Directions.

It was a revelation to me in one of my first few study section meetings that some reviewers really want to see extensive comment on where the project might be heading after the completion of 5 years of work. As in, a whole subheaded paragraph at the end of the Research Plan. This is insane to me.


For the most part, we all recognize that ongoing results in your own lab and in the field at large are going to dictate what is important to pursue five years from now. So speculation about what is coming next is silly.

And especially when I was a relatively inexperienced grant writer who had been getting beat up for "over ambitious" plans contained in a single 5 year plan, well.... I was amazed that people wanted to see even more in a speculative, hand wavey paragraph.

Consequently, I struggle with this. But I have tried to include something about Future Directions in my proposals. Yes, even now that we have only 12 precious pages to describe the actual plans for the current proposal.

I have recently seen a summary statement that describes insufficient attention paid to the Future Directions as the "primary weakness" of the proposal. I cannot even imagine what this reviewer was thinking. How can this be the primary weakness? Unless there is literally nothing else to complain about. And we know that never happens.

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