Thought of the day

May 15 2015 Published by under Day in the life of DrugMonkey

The science has been getting better and better in my group lately. Progress on most fronts and I'm pretty stoked for what is going on.
I think I am getting increasingly grumpy with Internet dumbassery at the same time.
Which I find very strange.

60 responses so far

  • Odyssey says:

    Classic signs of approaching late mid-career.

  • mytchondria says:

    Yay to good science. Ignorance or stoopidity got you down?

  • Ola says:

    Right there with ya. The Twitts in particular, always appears jaded/petty/circle-jerkish, whenever my science is trucking along well. But when I need to vent, it's good to have the InterWebz shoulder to cry on, 'cos nobody round these parts gives a damn.

  • Physician Scientist says:

    I think the realization that the general public's understanding of basic scientific concepts like the ideal gas law is really substandard has him down on the internet folk.

  • Pinko Punko says:

    That is because you spend too much time on a medium that seems optimized for posturing aholes. When you start to find even things you might agree with to be off-putting it is gross. No matter what is being said, there seems to be a whiff of chest thumpery and vibes of dick swingery. Back away slowly!

  • Dave says:

    CNS paper????

  • Masked Avenger says:

    Internet dumbassery is marginally tolerable as it is.

    Even more so when you've got important shit going on. In these cases, it is easy to unplug.

    I've been reading these things called "books"...

  • new PI says:

    Don't mean to hijack the comment thread here, but I would be grateful if you wouldn't mind posting your thoughts on how to deal with competition when you're starting out.

    Here's context to get you going: I thought I chose a new, safe niche. Turns out it's getting really, really hot. I had paired with a mid-career but big deal experimentalist (I do theory). I got two big grants this past year, but my grad students are *new*, and I've not contributed much of substance yet to this new field. A peer of mine... someone with whom I've been sharing my ideas for a long time and suggesting hypotheses and joint projects... just advertised a postdoc position that's *identical* to one I've been unsuccessfully advertising for over six months. This peer, it turns out, is paired with bigger BSD names and going after (per the job description) the same questions I am.

    I am smaller. I have not been able to get a postdoc, maybe because I don't look hot enough. My grad students are still learning how to use their computers. I am afraid. Should I try to pivot or just do whatever I can to be first? I could easily fail with the second or publish crap.

  • Dave says:

    Should I try to pivot or just do whatever I can to be first?

    ^troll

  • Ryan says:

    I'm in a different field, but some of my colleagues and I were discussing this the other day, so I thought I would share my 2 cents. If you decide to pivot to avoid potential scooping, you are essentially leaving things wide open for your competition. I think it's important to separate the potential for competition and perception that this other group will be successful in getting things done faster or better than you. That may not be how it eventually works out. I would avoid predicting that they will be successful and you won't. There are a few examples from my more experienced colleagues where the perception was exactly as you describe, but the other group failed to produce or didn't really end up scooping. It'd be a shame to see you abandon this direction based on potential competition. But that's just my opinion, and stuff.

  • E-Rook says:

    newPI: Focus on your own da**ed self. You have students that you're responsible for (to some extent) and you're worried about someone else's job posting? I suspect troll too.

  • newbie PI says:

    To New PI: Just hurry up and do what you can do. BSDs usually only have one or two people in their enormous labs at any given time that are actually producing the high impact science. The rest are usually duds. So chances are, whoever you have working on it is just as good as who they have working on it. Plus, your people have YOU there to mentor them.

    To Drugmonkey: I found that my aggravation over internet dumbassery pretty much disappeared once I stopped following people who constantly post about non-scandals on Twitter.

  • Philapodia says:

    I believe this relates to internet dumbassery in relation to the public understanding of science:

    "Two thousand years ago, Aristotle’s “Physics” was a wide-ranging set of theories that were easy to state and understand. But his ideas were almost completely wrong. Newton’s “Principia” ushered in the age of modern science, but remains one of the most impenetrable books ever written. There is a reason: The truths of nature are subtle, and require deep and careful thought."

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/16/opinion/it-is-in-fact-rocket-science.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region

  • Dude, you seriously just published a blogge post complaining that twitter is annoying you? Jeezus fucke, holmes, get a grip on yourself.

  • drugmonkey says:

    I didn't say Twitter is annoying me.

  • jmz4 says:

    More internet dumbassery:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/16/opinion/joe-nocera-the-greatest-generation-of-scientists.html?smid=fb-share

    Apparently we're all witless shills who are in it for the glory and money. Not "true" scientists like Joe Nocera (channeling Strominger) thinks we should be.

  • Philapodia says:

    I liked the following paragraph in the Nocera piece:

    "That kind of collaboration is something that has been largely lost in the scientific world. “Everything is so much more competitive now,” says Strominger. Scientists today are more likely to look for niches they can dominate. They compete to get their discoveries published ahead of rivals. Or to start a biotech company and make millions. “It would be pretty hard to capture the flavor of that period again,” says Strominger."

    Yet again we see the aged pining for the old days when they were the ones who dominated niches, published before their rivals, and started biotech companies and made millions. The riffraff these days can't POSSIBLY be as passionate and committed as the oldsters were because they seem to spend all of their time thinking about how to get money rather than pondering the glorious assets of Dame Science.

    Asshattes.

  • Jeezus motherfucken son a of a fucken fucke, that Nocera piece is so wrong in so many ways, I really am going to have to just start drinking early today.

  • Philapodia says:

    Another gem from Nocera:

    "In the early 1950s, recalled Jack Strominger, a scientist at Harvard who was Rich’s roommate in college, the federal government did not hand out grants to scientists the way it does today; so just getting the money to do science was hard."

    These kids these days don't know how hard we had it back then compared to how easy it is today! You just call your friendly IC director (who was best man at your 4th wedding) and remind him that he owes you for not telling wife #2 about the incident with the hookers in Reno. Bing, Bang, Boom, your proposal is shuffled around that bothersome "study section" (what a joke! Noobs....) and another 5 years of scratch comes in the door. That's how it's done, son.

  • Philapodia says:

    "In the course of talking to Strominger, I discovered that, at 89, he is also still going to work every day. Why didn’t scientists like him and Rich retire? I asked.

    “Why should we?” he replied. “It’s too much fun.”"

    Jack L Strominger . Down to only 2 grants (from a high of 9) with his last grant ending November from now. Take a clue, dude, and retire already. Let some of the rest of us have some fun in our fukken career.

    http://grantome.com/search?q=%40author+Jack+L+Strominger

  • jmz4 says:

    @CPP
    Not to mention it is very wrong. Rich wrote an autobiographical piece ten years ago that does a much better and more interesting telling of his life and the scientific climate back then:
    http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/full/10.1146/annurev.biochem.73.011303.073945?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%3Dpubmed

    In it, he notes his gratitude for easy federal funding, pointing out how it helped him tremendously at various points in his very long career. Maybe Nocera should have read it.
    Also, I'm not sure why there's so much obsession with his work on Z-DNA, when his contributions to translation mechanisms seem equally or more impressive.

  • potnia theron says:

    "The second insight was how collaborative the scientists were." - if you were white, male, Christian, Ivy League helped (not a lot from CCNY or Cal State).

  • MHC says:

    potnia theron: for what it's worth, both Alex Rich and Jack Strominger -though white- are of Jewish descent and therefore not Christian. Personally, I am of the opinion that their contributions to their respective fields entitle them to respect, gratitude and recognition.

    I'm curious what all of the self-serving bloggers here can offer to match the accomplishments of these two scientists, regardless of when said bloggers might retire (hopefully soon? making room for a next generation?). Envy & mean-spiritedness, coupled with mediocrity are never a pretty sight, neither on this blog nor anywhere else.

    And: "let some of the rest of us have some fun in our fukken career"? Who shall be the judge of the deserving "some"? resentful philapodia? and: that spelling is soooo puerile. grow up.

  • fjordmaster says:

    When I see pieces like Nocera's where I recognize the writer's ignorance because I have first-hand knowledge of the subject, it makes me think of all of the misinformation that must be spread about other professions and industries that I am ill-equipped to identify.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Exactly fjord master. Also see Wikipedia entries.

  • Philapodia says:

    You amuse me, MHC (hey, that rhymes!). Shine on you crazy kid, you!

    -Peter Pan

  • NSCI says:

    @jmz4
    I was thinking the same thing (although not this interview). My dad always tells stories of funding during this time as unlimited...being sent as an undergraduate to conferences to and told to 'buy some equipment' because they needed to think of ways to spend all the grant money. Lol. WTF is he talking about, easy funding now? I think the lack of it explains the vicious competition.

  • jmz4gtu says:

    @MHC
    "Personally, I am of the opinion that their contributions to their respective fields entitle them to respect, gratitude and recognition."
    -I completely agree, I just think the tribute article should have been written by a more knowledgeable person, or at least someone who bothered to read the man's own words before instead basing half of his article on the words of a college roommate. Words that mesh with an utterly false narrative peddled among some very senior scientists that the scientific community now has been contaminated by riff-raff.

  • Pinko Punko says:

    I was reading the obituary of Rich by Schimmel and I noted that Rich hadn't published a single paper during his post-doc with Pauling. I am certain that Rich was a creative, masterful, insightful scientist. If you read "The Eighth Day of Creation" you see lots of stories of college roommates, just like Strominger and Rich- seemingly great coincidences of this network of scientific giants. The alternative hypothesis was that there were relatively few scientists, and everything to discover, and those few scientists were the right people in the right places, with both ingenuity and unique insights but in wholly unique situations, within a field that greatly restricted entry to vast numbers of people, while also vastly less punitive for those within the field- both in the stability of their careers, the opportunities available, the paucity of competition. This does not take away from their accomplishments, but failure to acknowledge that everything about the world is different now than it was then is a denial of both current and past circumstances.

  • MHC says:

    Pinko Punko: and the evidence for "within a field that greatly restricted entry to vast numbers of people" is what exactly?
    "The alternative hypothesis was that there were relatively few scientists, and everything to discover, and those few scientists were the right people in the right places" : are you suggesting we simply arrived on the scene too late? Of course the world is different now -- but everything?? I just don't get the resentment that oozes from the majority of the posts on this site. Sour grapes? Lack of achievement?

  • Philapodia says:

    @MHC "I just don't get the resentment that oozes from the majority of the posts on this site."

    Then you haven't been paying attention. No one is saying that these oldsters haven't done good work, but the disparity between early/mid career faculty and senior faculty in terms of ability to obtain/maintain funding to do their research and career outlooks has been a topic of discussion for years on this site. Plus, when a president of a fairly large scientific society calls us riffraff who are effectively pissing in senior scientists funding pool, it tends to irritate us.

    "Sour grapes? Lack of achievement?"
    Yes, I'm sure no one here has done anything of note. We are riffraff, after all.

  • Alfred Wallace says:

    "The alternative hypothesis was that there were relatively few scientists, and everything to discover, and those few scientists were the right people in the right places"

    pretty much this

    see also here:
    https://caseybergman.wordpress.com/2012/08/26/the-logistics-of-scientific-growth-in-the-21st-century/

    of course among the earlier scientist, some were better and some were worse, and the good ones were more likely to succeed or get the great discoveries, same as today.
    However, I believe it was easier to make fundamental discoveries and much much easier to obtain a permanent position as the whole molecular biology endeavor was just growing.

    I am a relatively enthusiastic postdoc, but if I had the opportunity to do the same thing some decades earlier I would snap-accept

    " I just don't get the resentment that oozes from the majority of the posts on this site"

    Resentment is only coming up when we are told some bs about having it easy compared to the oldtimers, who anyway were/are the much better scientists

  • drugmonkey says:

    MHC- I am interested to know if resentment is ever a justifiable and correct reaction to circumstances? Or is it inevitably the case that resentments are caused personal inadequacy and well deserved failure on the part of the resenting individual?

  • MHC says:

    alfred wallace: thank you for the reference to: https://caseybergman.wordpress.com/2012/08/26/the-logistics-of-scientific-growth-in-the-21st-century/
    which i found very interesting.

    philapodia: ooooh--touchy, are we?

    lest i'm misunderstood: as a PI with students and post-docs under my supervision, I am very much aware of the changes in the funding and employment landscape. Even so, I fail to see how belly-aching over older generation scientists (few if any here self-identify with name and age, so for the most part we're left guessing) is going to solve this problem, and would like to see constructive suggestions instead (some of which have surfaced on this site).

    drugmonkey: Resentment as an *understandable* reaction, yes. As a productive expression/reaction to the circumstances, not so much. I'd probably leave out the adjective "well-deserved" , knowing full well that not all failure is self-inflicted. Resentment will not succeed in setting the stage for a dialogue that would all of a sudden make a 68-year old consider retirement or handing the baton to a junior associate. I don't think that polarization would help achieve a desirable outcome and reduce the age of a first RO-1 recipient from 42 to <42, whatever the differential may be we're looking for. I had the good fortune of reaping the benefits of an early launch (30), and most post-docs I know are past that age, not even close to obtaining their next position. I agree with everyone here that the current situation needs urgent action. Neither funny language nor resentment will get us there.

  • drugmonkey says:

    okay, MHC, what will? What will convince the people such as, presumably, yourself to pat themselves on the back for a job well done and to step aside for the younger cohorts?

    What will convince you that it is time to stop trying to acquire grant funding?

    As far as my readership and commentariat go, we have essentially all kinds - from grad students to postdocs (of various levels and gruntlements), junior faculty, mid career faculty and the occasional senior to nearly-emeritizing faculty. One or two of my semi-regular commenters are reasonably accomplished GlamourHounds in their own right although these are mostly mid-career so the full flower of their awesome is still ahead. I have a number of junior faculty commenters and readers that come from Glamour, have battled through the fires into some fairly impressive appointments and show every signs of becoming the next generation of highly accomplished scientists. We also get plenty of the riff raff such as myself.

    It is unclear to me why you are overly concerned about the specific identity of commenters, it suggests that your goal is to dismiss the person rather than to address the comments themselves. This is an inferior way to move forward.

    My goal is not polarization. It is to face the facts and reality as I find it. And to show people such as yourself that pretending in even the slightest that things are the same now as they were for prior generations is false. Persisting in such claims after being shown the data runs the risk of moving from ignorance to intentional, willing and entirely self-serving behavior.

    It is interesting to me that pointing out facts and trends about the career seems to you to be anything other than constructive. How can increasing general understanding of facts, and dismantling myths, conveniently truth-sounding false statements and self-serving attitudes be anything other than constructive?

  • Philapodia says:

    @MHC: It's possible that I use funny language to cover deep insecurity and my underlying pathological imposter syndrome in the face of the greatness that BSDs have achieved and I never will. More likely it's that I would rather keep lighthearted (or childish if you prefer) and not take myself so seriously, which makes me a happier person IRL. Overly stuffy people bore me, so why be one?

    This forum also serves as a place for those of us facing these issues everyday a warm and loving place to vent a bit and blow off some steamwhere we don't run the risk of losing our jobs for saying what we really feel IRL (unless you're a badass like Berg). We may even come up with some good ideas and ways to fix the problem, but in some ways this is really a support group (maybe SSA (Study Section Anonymous?).

    Cheers, Mate!

  • MHC says:

    "It is unclear to me why you are overly concerned about the specific identity of commenters, it suggests that your goal is to dismiss the person rather than to address the comments themselves. This is an inferior way to move forward." I'm interested in this solely to assess the stage of the various posters' careers. Some posters do self-identify as newbie pI's or post-docs. Others -especially some prone to profanity- don't. Just curious. If my goal were to be dismissive I wouldn't be reading this stuff, anyway.

    "It is to face the facts and reality as I find it. And to show people such as yourself that pretending in even the slightest that things are the same now as they were for prior generations is false. Persisting in such claims after being shown the data runs the risk of moving from ignorance to intentional, willing and entirely self-serving behavior." I am not disputing the facts, unless you wish to include disgruntlement as a fact. Nowhere have I even begun to suggest that things are the same now as they were then.

    "It is interesting to me that pointing out facts and trends about the career seems to you to be anything other than constructive. How can increasing general understanding of facts, and dismantling myths, conveniently truth-sounding false statements and self-serving attitudes be anything other than constructive?" Again, it is one thing to point out the facts, trends etc. (and I agree that your initial posts do, no matter how provocative), but the epithets being hurled around here in response, and the supposedly edgy language ("fucken this" and "fukken that", "douchebags", "shitteheads" and. so. forth.) may serve to vent (Philapodia), get old very quickly in what is unquestionably an important discussion. I am surprised that some feel that their jobs are at risk by participating in the debate and expressing their views on careers, NIH reviews etc.

  • drugmonkey says:

    To some extent the interestingly spelled profanity is a cultural touchstone specific to this blog community and in particular 1) the very useful and insightful co-blogger activities from PhysioProf in the old days and 2) his transformation into the more florid personality of Comradde Physioproffe.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Now, back to the point MHC. What possible tone, rationale or argument would persuade you to step aside for the younger generations? Is such a thing possible?

  • Dave says:

    but the epithets being hurled around here in response, and the supposedly edgy language ("fucken this" and "fukken that", "douchebags", "shitteheads" and. so. forth.) may serve to vent (Philapodia), get old very quickly in what is unquestionably an important discussion

    That's fuckked uppppe

  • physioprof says:

    More florid????? Are you fucken high?????

  • MHC says:

    "Now, back to the point MHC. What possible tone, rationale or argument would persuade you to step aside for the younger generations? Is such a thing possible?"

    Rationale and argument more than tone, obviously. I think I'd be a lot more susceptible to stepping aside at some point (debatable what would be fair and appropriate) if there were a mechanism that ensures my stepping back would give a deserving more junior person a shot on goal. If handing back an award would simply mean putting the \( back in the pool without any assurances that said \) would end up funding the next generation, then it's hard to see an upside: other members of my cohort might have a different opinion and stay in the competition for the \( just returned to the pool. But what if it were possible to become a more active participant and give those who relinquish an award some influence over which application would then be funded instead? Choose from a set of peer-reviewed applications with decent scores but have the privilege of weighing in on which project gets funded? (obvious exclusions: applicants from the same institution, former students/post-docs etc., all up for debate). Continue to exert some influence on what I might consider worthwhile research, without myself directly profiting from those \)? If one could track the performance of these selected investigators over time, perhaps one might find some of these choices visionary, as distinct from the risk-averse preliminary data-laden applications that are less original and still get $$.

  • MHC says:

    in the above, read dollar signs for $$ (no idea why that happened)

  • MHC says:

    backslash-parenthesis should be dollar signs. pffft.

  • Philapodia says:

    @MHC: "I am surprised that some feel that their jobs are at risk by participating in the debate and expressing their views on careers, NIH reviews etc."

    There are individuals that frequent this forum that are from or have been at the NIH, and while there has never been an issue with these people (in fact they have been quite helpful!) it is a possibility that you may make the wrong person mad by saying your mind. Losing funding and/or your job because you said something on social media that someone didn't like is a real possibility (https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/09/23/u-kansas-professor-suspended-after-anti-nra-tweet). Also, it's possible to say something online that a reviewer doesn't like that could result in a subconscious bias against your application. Not everyone here has the protection of tenure (or the possibility of tenure), so you need to be circumspect, maybe even paranoid, to make sure that you expressing your honest opinion doesn't negatively affect the family and/or career that you have worked so hard to support. Our opinions matter because we're directly involved in and affected by this system, so we want our voices heard even if our names are not associated with them.

    Re: reallocating funds to junior scientists. The problem with the scenario that you put forward in regard to a senior scientist being able to dictate where the funds that they relinquish go to is that it is dynastic. Also it implies a level of entitlement to those funds that is counter to the spirit of competitive funding within the biomedical research enterprise. For example, there's no set aside to study the major histocompatibility complex unless it's for a PAR, so why should someone not at the NIH get to dictate where the funds that you choose to give back to the NIH go? If you want to continue to exert influence in your field, there are plenty of ways to do it, such as acting as key personnel on a junior faculty members application, acting as a reviewer on study section, become a PO at NIH, writing engaging books that synthesize your vast years of experience and inspire more than one new scientist to continue your good work, working with advocacy groups (Research! America, ASBMB, others) to increase NIH funding levels, etc.

    See, not one expletive.

  • drugmonkey says:

    So do I take it, MHC, that the ability to anoint a successor in a direct way is critical to this Emeritus award the NIH is considering launching? You think that part has significant draw?

    Is it critical that this anointed successor continues to involve the semi-retiring person on the project?

  • MHC says:

    drugmonkey's question was: is there any scenario under which one (more specifically: I) could imagine stepping aside for a junior scientist. well, either you mandate your solution in a top-down, executive-branch fashion, or you must incentivize the privileged (like me) to relinquish what we have. whether my suggestion conforms to the "spirit of competitive funding": surely that cannot be the only model that could possibly work to get worthwhile science done (biotech? big pharma? CDC?).

    and as to the dynastic element: isn't that sort-of baked into the current system anyway? someone who did her thesis work on C. elegans, if somewhat successful, is more likely to do a post-doc in the C. elegans sandbox, and -when applying for a faculty position and grants- is unlikely to shift to yeast. And guess what: the students trained by that individual are more likely to work on -let me guess- C. elegans? Not because it is necessarily the better science, but for dynastic reasons, as many scientific pedigrees will confirm, an expression of intellectual preferences, taste perhaps. I think I'd be far more likely to have someone (the younger PI) try something orthogonal to my own interests, just out of curiosity.

  • MHC says:

    drugmonkey: i wasn't referring to the emeritus award. rather, i was thinking what might have some appeal and actually get a next generation scientist into the game. as mentioned in my post above, i could imagine directing resources to something i always wanted to do/be interested in, but lacked the guts or infrastructure to actually try.

  • MHC says:

    "So do I take it, MHC, that the ability to anoint a successor in a direct way is critical to this Emeritus award the NIH is considering launching? You think that part has significant draw?"

    Speaking for myself, yes, it would have a significant draw. Not unlike seeing a nomination/recommendation for an award to one of your colleagues succeed. It is a nice thing to be able to enjoy the success of others, even if they are scientific competitors.

    "Is it critical that this anointed successor continues to involve the semi-retiring person on the project?"

    As far as I am concerned, I think that could/should be optional. Let's suppose I were allowed to pick such an award, and I'd have chosen someone who has a bold idea in an engineering- or physics-based approach to a problem considered intractable: I would love to learn of the new data as they emerge. Providing advice or direction? Not unless asked.

  • Philapodia says:

    "and as to the dynastic element: isn't that sort-of baked into the current system anyway? "

    No, it's not. We're talking about funding here, not science, which are not the same. Neither Jack Strominger or his scientific progeny are not entitled to any free money just because of who they are or what they have done in the past. JS can have all of the scientific spawn he wants, but they should all compete on the same playing field with everyone else. If they propose good new science that will serve the public and be a good use of taxpayer money, then they should have a shot competing for the funds to do the work. At the same time there are thousands of other really good projects that would also that are not getting funded because of limited NIH dollars, many from junior faculty who have a limited timeclock to get funding or get kicked out.

    What most of the junior and mid-career faculty on this forum object to is a scientific class system where there are different rules for senior and mid/early career faculty, especially where the rules favor very well established senior investigators at the expense of everyone else.

  • clueless noob says:

    The current system already allows the appointment of a successor (of a sort) via a PI change. These still have to be approved by the institute and the IC, but I've seen a couple of these in recent years where the new PI was more or less anointed by the old. Of course this assumes that the old PI is willing to give up the grant while there are still reasonable time and funds remaining for the new PI to complete the project and pursue a renewal, and that the new PI is willing to give up their ESI status for 3 years of funding that won't "count" for things like tenure and might not be portable should they seek another position. Still, assuming cooperation at the grantee institution and the IC, it's entirely possible to hand over your grant to that promising young scientist in your lab.

  • drugmonkey says:

    This is sufficiently common in my experience as to prompt my strong disbelief that any new mechanism is necessary to address this aspect of the Emeritus proposal.

  • MHC says:

    i would not assume that "really good projects" would be -or even can be- judged on their scientific merits alone, separate from (the pedigree of) the applicant, viz. the NIH review criteria ("applicant"). all the agonizing over the personal statements, CVs, publication strategies etc. emphasize the fact that it isn't simply the "really good project" but also the ability to execute this project that should be factored in. this will mean: quality of demonstrated scholarship, some evidence of accomplishment in the relevant domain etc.

    i fail to see how this can be dissociated from the institutions and the labs one grew up in, hence my view that a dynastic element is inherent in a good portion of our profession, whether fair or not.

    also: i don't advocate for "free money" but was simply thinking (at the suggestion of drugmonkey) about whether it would make a difference knowing that what i give up goes to a junior investigator, or instead is simply returned to the pool. with proper safeguards to avoid nepotism, being able to do so with serious input from the senior PI, to me, would be attractive. if a senior investigator who has contributed to IRG reviews, has held peer-reviewed funding (NSF, NIH, other) for some significant stretch of time, and has a measurable record of achievement, perhaps such individuals might well be qualified to make that judgment call no better or worse than an IRG. if the beneficiary of that judgment must be a junior PI, then we'd see: 1. reduced funding for senior PI and 2. a new entrant to the ball.

  • MHC says:

    clueless noob: i am emphatically excluding handing money to a promising young scientist in my own lab, but rather i was thinking about being handed a list of meritorious (properly peer reviewed) applications that might have just missed the payline, and choose from that list. a "select pay" mode at the discretion of the senior PI, instead of the institute. i'd think there might be some honor in this, especially if the selected application would turn out to be spectacularly successful. it would have to be clear that the dollars handed back can only go to a new investigator.

  • physioprof says:

    NIH doesn't need to "incentivize" old fuckes to "give up" NIH funding. All it needs to do is not renew their grants.

  • MHC says:

    that is what i mean by executive-style action. how do you get around the age discrimination issue?

  • physioprof says:

    ICs are free to not renew grants for all kinds of reasons, which could certainly include: this grant has been renewed long enough. This has nothing to with age discrimination.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Why isn't the ESI boost also afoul of the age discrimination issue under a zero sum scenario such as NIH granting?

  • physioprof says:

    ESI has nothing to do with how old you are.

  • Dave says:

    This sprightly young woman is a fresh ESI, and she is 102.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/from-nazi-germany-a-tale-of-redemption-1431576062

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