Occasional commenter crystaldoc left a query on an early post.
Given recent changes in the NIH process (in particular only one chance for resubmission, and less information in the tea leaves of the new summary statements), when does it make sense to resubmit? When does it make more sense to change it up and put in a new submission? Any pragmatic advice or guidelines based on impact scores or percentiles? How often are A1′s funded when the original submission was streamlined? Or at 40-50th percentile, or 30-40th percentile? Are these data available anywhere?
I offered up a prior post in which I posted some longitudinal data on the funding of NIH grants unrevised and at the A1 and A2 revision stages.
crystaldoc was not impressed.
NIH has been touting their new and improved reporting rules which are intended to keep their grantee PIs on the straight and narrow. A news bit in Nature has the highlights.
The proposed rules state that a “significant financial interest” exists when the combined value of an investigator’s equity holdings in, and payments from, a publicly traded company exceed US$5,000 in any given year. Under current rules, the reporting threshold is $10,000.
Got it. Somewhere between $5,000 and $9,999 per year in consulting or stock cashout or dividends or whatnot we have a big group of PIs out there doing bad things for the money. And we’re going to fix that.
As you know, DearReader, I enjoy talking about science with the Boss, aka the US taxpayer, aka my friends, neighbors and acquaintances. In fact I not only enjoy it but I think of it as responsibility both to them, the people who fund the NIH, and to my fellow scientists.
You are also likely aware that I have school-aged children and therefore this circle of interactions with the taxpayer includes chatting with the parents of children that my own kids interact with.
One of the conversations that arises fairly frequently has to do with medications prescribed for Attention Deficit Disorder / Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD, ADHD). This is, of course, a big can of worms to be opening on the blogosphere and let me make it clear I’m not planning on discussing ADHD science per se.
In brief outline of the issues let us reflect on the following.
-as with most of the mental/behavioral disorders there exists a distribution or spectrum of traits, symptoms or behaviors. Depending on how you want to view them. At some point of extremity, we (meaning the clinical psychiatry/psychology communities) define or diagnose conditions as pathological and in need of intervention
-diagnosis is imperfect, we do not have alternate biomarker validation in most cases and there will always be those on the threshold
-specific traits or behaviors can be either trivial or maladaptive depending on circumstances.
-therapeutic intervention, even in the clearly pathological cases, is less than 100% successful.
-interventions which involve repeated or chronic administration of drugs which affect brain and other body systems have risks.
These end up being complicated situations for parents to navigate. Parents are subject to the usual stigmas about mental health, and are reluctant to consider that their child might actually benefit from therapeutic drugs. They are worried about the lasting consequences. They have, perhaps, run across the criticisms (some valid, many not) of ADHD diagnosis and medication that are available on the internet.
And their doctors are failing them.
May 24, 2010
From Female Science Professor we learn:
In an article on May 18 in The Globe & Mail, the results of the program are described, including the fact that Canada was able to “poach” leading researchers from other countries and lure them to Canada with the millions of research $$ associated with these Chairs. The article effuses about the aggressive program of luring top researchers:
For Ottawa, it was one of the biggest bets on scientific research in a generation. But for the man at the centre of Canada’s worldwide drive to recruit top scientists, it was a “ballsy” play that at times resembled a bidding war for NHL free agents.
These CERC chairs are referred to by the following terms: star researchers, renowned scientists, foreign researchers, and, more generically, as “individuals”, or simply “these people”.
Two days later, The Globe & Mail realizes that it might want to mention that “these people” are all men.
Cripes. I was just drafting up something responding to Bob O’Hara on spousal hire policy and wrote an aside that fits much better here.
In discussing affirmative action hiring (a thing Bob called discrimination-and-therefore-unethical in a comment), he admits that he is okay with “discrimination” to deal with existing “disparity” which is a result of “past discrimination”.
I mean seriously dude, c’mon. Read how you framed that stinker. Try it this way- Affirmative action hiring policies exist to make current discriminatory hiring policies that favor white guys slightly more fair, equitable and ethical for candidates who are more meritorious but have lost out to undeserving white guys.
This CERC thing that FSP pointed to is totally past-tense, right?
Go read her post, especially those of you who frame this nonsense the way Bob O’Hara does in your own mind.
May 20, 2010
I recently read over a bit in the Chronicle of Higher Ed that seemed to me to be a very thoughtful take on the practices of spousal hires in academia.
The author, David Bell, was a dean at Johns Hopkins University at one point and had gained some experiences of the advantages and disadvantages of policies which resulted in the hiring of the spouse of an academic that was the target of the primary recruitment.
Most of the issues are familiar to my readers. Academics who are married to another academic professional face special challenges on the job hunt. Our employment often requires a move to a geographically distant location. Frequently the hiring University or college is the only academic jobsite within reasonable commuting distance. Dual-academic-career couples are highly motivated to find two jobs at the same place.
Universities and colleges have long recognized this and have instantiated various ad hoc solutions. The goal, of course, is to be able to land their primary recruit who just happens to be part of a dual career couple. The recruitment cost to the University, in addition to the salary, labspace and other demands of the primary recruit, includes opening up another academic job, tenure track or otherwise. Big deal.
Personally I think this is a great solution to the modern reality of academic folks married to others in the business. [Discl: I'm in one such partnership]
But hoo-boy. The comments after that bit in the Chronicle just went nuts.
Love the idea that you can give my job away because I don’t have a spouse/partner you want. Isn’t it terrific that the profession hires, according to David Bell’s article here, more than a third–a third!–of its faculty because of whom they sleep with. Damn this is a prescription for the meritocratic society I had been told I was being raised in.
May 20, 2010
BikeMonkey Guest PostESPN is reporting that Floyd Landis, previously a world-level professional cyclist, is now admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs for “most of his career”.
You will perhaps recall that the Landis case has appeared on the DM blog a time or two before.
In a brief fan’s overview for those too lazy to Google, steadily improving journeyman* / domestique Floyd Landis started to show some real prospects as a Big Tour winner with some big performances as a super-domestique in 2004, and an initial foray as team captain in 2005. Landis was showing excellent signs of class in the early 2006 Tour but the usual Tour deal-breaker of a few great performances from competitors and one bad day had Floyd on the ropes. Stage 17 saw Floyd come out and just slay the competition with an all day break to put himself back in the race he would eventually win. It was a great stage to watch. A desperate attack in the early going which was surely doomed to failure. (This is a common rhythm for the bigger bike race stages- one man is usually unable to hold off the peloton until the finish if the teams are determined to catch him.) Yet Landis did. Despite the fact that the main General Classification teams knew he was riding back into and possibly away with the entire race. They couldn’t catch him. Floyd just kept hammering away the kilometers, obviously suffering like a dog and continuing to pour on the power. It was amazing.
He tested positive for testosterone doping in samples collected after that fateful race day. Given that this is a substance to be found in humans anyway, the conviction hinged on analysis of the ratio of carbon isotopes in the detectable testosterone. This ratio analysis indicated the presence of exogenous testosterone- i.e., that not manufactured naturally by Landis’ body.
Allegedly, anyway. Landis fought tooth and nail to overturn the conviction. The reporting from ESPN gives us a little clue as to why a now-admitted long-term doper would have fought so hard in that particular conviction.
He didn’t do it.
May 19, 2010
I first saw the story break in a retraction notice published in PNAS.
The authors wish to note the following: “After a re-examination of key findings underlying the reported conclusions that B7-DCXAb is an immune modulatory reagent, we no longer believe this is the case. Using blinded protocols we re-examined experiments purported to demonstrate the activation of dendritic cells, activation of cytotoxic T cells, induction of tumor immunity, modulation of allergic responses, breaking tolerance in the RIP-OVA diabetes model, and the reprogramming of Th2 and T regulatory cells. Some of these repeated studies were direct attempts to reproduce key findings in the manuscript cited above. In no case did these repeat studies reveal any evidence that the B7-DCXAb reagent had the previously reported activity. In the course of this re-examination, we were able to study all the antibodies used in the various phases of our work spanning the last 10 years. None of these antibodies appears to be active in any of our repeat assays. We do not believe something has happened recently to the reagent changing its potency. Therefore, the authors seek to retract this work.”
Although curious as to who was the bad apple, given that all authors signed the PNAS retraction, I have to admit that “10 years” thing really got my attention. I have been waiting for the other shoe to drop…turns out it was a closet full of shoes.
May 18, 2010
There’s really nothing else to say but “Discuss” for this comment.
I think people with a stay at home spouse should have an asterisk next to their name on their CVs and tenure documents, like baseball players who’ve taken steroids.
(You might want to also register a vote in Female Science Professor’s stay-at-home-spouse poll.)
May 17, 2010
We have another version of bash-the-R21 brewing, for previous work from PhysioProf on the topic see here, here and here.
The discussion ended up touching on the paralytic meme that it is impossible to get an R01 funded without copious preliminary data testifying specifically and empirically that a large part of the proposal is/will be supported.
It doesn’t help me to say, “You should go for the R01″ when I have what I think are great ideas, prelim data to show the ideas are feasible, but not enough to justify an R01 or defend against “fishing expedition” criticisms. Not to mention a publication track record. I don’t resent this — if I was giving a PI $500K I’d give it to the PI who has years of great publications and boatloads of preliminary data too.
But this is why I (in a basic science dept) am primarily applying for NSF and R21s for now, hopefully in 1-3 years I’ll have the data for the R01. Is this wrong?
See what I mean about “paralytic”?
May 14, 2010
The NINDS will continue to accept applications for investigator-initiated exploratory/developmental projects (R21s) for all program areas supported by the Institute. Previous NINDS language stated that R21 proposals were “limited to those with the potential for truly ground-breaking impact”. We would like to emphasize that such impact, as described in the trans-NIH parent R21 announcement (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-10-069.html), can be achieved in many different ways. For example, projects can assess the feasibility of a novel area of investigation, develop new techniques or models, apply existing methodologies to a new scientific area, etc. (see parent announcement for additional examples).
Umm, what? Is what they are trying to say here is that they are no longer insisting on R21′s meeting the criteria of “truly ground-breaking”? Couldn’t they just say that?
Or are they saying that their scare language has dissuaded anyone from bothering to submit an R21 when they could just write a small R01? Or go to some other IC for funding?
Or perhaps their applicants are getting so beat up in study sections which are trying to apply their previous language that they never get anything with a fundable score?
To me this move points the finger square at the problem with the R21 reviews, regardless of the qualifying language used in a Program Announcement. There are multiple explicit and implicit goals for the R21. They are poorly specified, and some are in conflict with each other. Therefore the criteria become a point of much contention in review discussions.
Apparently NINDS attempted to cut through that fog with additional specification about “ground-breaking” impact. A decent idea. Too bad it didn’t work out for them.
There was also this bit at the end which was interesting, and pertinent for many of our readers:
It is important to note that analyses of new investigator applications to NINDS indicate that the success rate for R21 applicants is lower than for R01 applicants (FY 2009 success rates for NINDS R21 New Investigators: 11% vs. NINDS R01 New Investigators: 19%). Given the current policy of the NIH to support New Investigator R01s at success rates equivalent to those of established investigators submitting new (Type 1) applications (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not-od-09-013.html), the NINDS encourages New Investigators, and in particular Early Stage Investigators (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-08-121.html), to apply for R01 grants when seeking first-time funding from the NIH.
Great first step. I’d like to see an argument that advances the cause with study section members who are still operating on the “starter grant” mentality. I’d like to see some NINDS data on productivity of R01 awards to n00bs vs. experienced investigators with 0, 1, 2… other awards.
May 14, 2010
…over at Dr. Jekyll & Mrs. Hyde’s blog.
When Google can predict, before I finish typing, the rest of the last name of the ex-boyfriend I’m thinking about? When we can crowd-source an encyclopedia with useful entries on “Factors affecting the crack spread”? [I clicked on the "random" button, I swear.] Does it honest to God still take six months to sort 20,000 abstracts with preselected keywords into one of 8 themes and some number of subthemes/sessions?
but for anyone in between it is a complete waste of time and money, and it’s not even fun.
SFN is glorious.
Discuss. Over there.
May 14, 2010
The R15 / AREA is one of my favorite NIH grant mechanisms, even though I’ve never been in a place that is eligible to apply for them. The whole idea is just so….positive and uplifting. In theory, these R15 awards are all about getting undergraduates involved in research science. From the professor’s perspective, this mechanism gives a chance at a set-aside pool of money for those investigators who operate under heavier teaching loads or with lesser institutional infrastructure. I was just discussing this mechanism with someone and decided it was worth revisiting this topic to see if anyone in the commentariat had any additional advice or insight to landing an R15 / AREA award (PA-10-070). This post originally appeared December 4, 2008.
The Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA / R15) mechanism of the NIH is designed to:
support small research projects in the biomedical and behavioral sciences conducted by faculty and students in health professional schools, and other academic components that have not been major recipients of NIH research grant funds
Selectivity of eligibility is always a good thing for those that happen to qualify. Knowledge of such opportunities is a very good thing for those on the job market for a variety of reasons including your own comfort in moving to a less research-focused department/institute and your ability to wow the hiring department with your awareness. So the first thing to do is to check the list of eligible schools/components carefully. It can be the case that the University School of Medicine is ineligible whereas the normal undergraduate departments in the School of Arts and Sciences or whatever are eligible. Or, surprisingly perhaps to some, vice versa. In case you were wondering, the Program Announcement indicates that the criteria exclude academic components
that have received research grants and/or cooperative agreements from the NIH totaling more than $3 million per year (in both direct and indirect costs) in each of four (4) or more of the last seven (7) years.
May 13, 2010
I have been waiting and waiting for this post.
This is a page from my great-grandmother’s cookery notebook. She was a cook in England in the late nineteenth century (yes, we have long generation times in my family). Elsewhere in the notebook she seems to be planning a menu for a visit by Lord Roberts of Kandahar, so her employers were clearly very, very posh. And, whenever they got a cold, very, very high.
Scibling and library dude John Dupuis has a post up on:
It focuses on librarian interaction with the rest of the academic campus. For the most part I’m just confused about where the problem lies, but I did seem to glean two things. One, he’s concerned about budget shrinkage, “defenders” and “making a case” to the rest of the campus. Second, he’s more or less soliciting opinion from non librarians.
My two cents about academic libraries after the jump.
Something that arose in the comments after my last post on the Brodie affair was underlined in the newspaper report from 2007.
Oddly enough, Brodie’s conclusions were found to be correct and supported by later research, said UW professor Lawrence Corey, head of the UW’s virology division in the Department of Laboratory Medicine, in The Seattle Times. Brodie worked in Corey’s retrovirus laboratory.
“Did he set back crucial research? The answer is no,” Corey said in the Times article.
Corey, btw, was the substitute PI for one year of one of the Brodie NIH grants.
And it isn’t just this case either. This theme that the faked data supported conclusions that were correct anyway can be seen elsewhere. The Linda Buck laboratory retraction that PhysioProf described long ago featured this, as the author suspected of data fakery claimed to be working on replacement data that would prove he was right. There are several cases of errata and even retractions being followed up with replacement figures or papers showing the original purported data could be replicated.
I smell an implication in these situations that we are supposed to modulate our ire at the original data faking simply because the authors’ conclusions were supportable by later investigations.
Bah, I say. Bah.