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.

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Great-Gran's elixir

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.

Go Read.

Great-Gran’s elixir

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.

Go Read.

Scibling and library dude John Dupuis has a post up on:

The inherent insularity of library culture?

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.

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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.

I recently noted the case of scientific conduct of one Scott J. Brodie, DVM, Ph.D. (ORI Notice). The incomparable writedit has a few thoughts on the matter as well. I, of course, originally just got smart about the mention of PowerPoint presentations.
With the extensive list of NIH grants and papers that were involved in the Finding of Scientific Misconduct, however, I got to thinking. And pulling on the threads a little bit.
First a PubMed search for Brodie, S.J. identifies 48 publications. The ten earliest stretch from 1958 to 1966 then there is a 20 year gap, so I’m going to assume the most recent 38 are from the subject of this misconduct case.
Only one of them (Brodie, Journal of Leukocyte Biology 68:351-359, 2000) has a retraction link on the PubMed listing. And that link points to the wrong retraction, this is the right one. This is the fourth paper listed in the ORI Notice as containing falsified figures/data.

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A recent notice (NOT-OD-10-095) of scientific misconduct from ORI has a curious twist I’ve not seen before.

Scott J. Brodie, DVM, Ph.D., University of Washington: Based on the findings in an investigation report by the University of Washington (UW) and additional analysis conducted by ORI in its oversight review,
ORI found that Scott J. Brodie, DVM, Ph.D., former Research Assistant Professor, Department of Laboratory Medicine, and Director of the UW Retrovirology Pathogenesis Laboratory, UW, committed misconduct in science (scientific misconduct) in research supported by or reported in the following U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) grant applications:
1 P01 HD40540-01 (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development [NICHD], National Institutes of Health [NIH])
5 P01 HD40540-02 (NICHD, NIH)
1 P01 AI057005-01 (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases [NIAID], NIH)
1 R01 DE014149-01 (National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research [NIDCR], NIH)
2 U01 AI41535-05 (NIAID, NIH)
1 R01 HL072631-01 (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [NHLBI], NIH)
1 R01 (U01) AI054334-01 (NIAID, NIH)
1 R01 DE014827-01 (NIDCR, NIH)
1 R01 AI051954-01 (NIAID, NIH).
Specifically, ORI made fifteen findings of misconduct in science based on evidence that Dr. Brodie knowingly and intentionally fabricated and falsified data reported in nine PHS grant applications and progress reports and several published papers, manuscripts, and PowerPoint presentations. The fifteen findings are as follows:
1. Respondent knowingly and intentionally falsified a figure that was presented in manuscripts submitted to the Journal of Experimental Medicine and the Journal of Virology and in several PowerPoint presentations that purported to represent rectal mucosal leukocytes in some instances and lymph nodes in other instances.
2. Respondent knowingly and intentionally falsified portions of a three-paneled figure included in several manuscript submissions, PowerPoint presentations, and grant applications.
3. Respondent knowingly and intentionally falsified a figure included as Figure 1N in American Journal of Pathology 54:1453-1464, 1999, three NIH grant applications, and several PowerPoint presentations.

PowerPoint presentations?
What the hell are those doing in there?
Don’t get me wrong, data faking is data faking. I’m not down with that at all. But given the length of the accusation findings in the Notice (there were 15 total listed) throwing in the extra bit about PowerPoint presentations is odd.
What’s next?
“Respondent knowingly and intentionally falsified a figure included in several manuscript submissions, grant applications, PowerPoint presentations, and described in email exchanges with collaborators, conversations in the hallway at meetings and private conversations with his graduate students”

Odyssey of the Pondering Blather blog wrote a bit on a news bit in Science by Jocelyn Kaiser which breathlessly warned of the upcoming NIH budgetary cliff.

But reality is setting in. The 2-year grants will run out in 2011, and when that happens it could cause a nasty shock. Barring a new windfall–and none is in sight–NIH’s budget will drop sharply next year. Much of the work recently begun will be left short of cash. The result could be the lowest grant funding rates in NIH history, and the academic job market will suddenly dry up–especially for young researchers.

Here’s the graph they provide which depicts the NIH budget in recent years.

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Wow.

Speakeasy Science

Although my most recent book, The Poisoner’s Handbook, is about murder and the invention of forensic toxicology in the early 20th century, my earlier works have focused on primate research, the science of affection, biology of gender differences, and even a 19th century scientific quest to prove that we live on after death. Does this variety of interests suggest a short attention span? Well, maybe. But it’s more that I’m fascinated by the intersection of science and society – how each changes the other – and by the very human story of science itself. All my books seek to explore that terrain in different ways. The last three focus on moments in the history of science as a way of looking at ideas that have changed the way we think.
This blog is about such moments – past and present – that illuminate the way we think about our world. It may focus on research from the past. It may be about current investigations. It may concern tales from my books, from those already published to works in progress. I welcome all comments, suggestions, and blog ideas.

Did I mention she wrote The Poisoner’s Handbook?

Wow.

Speakeasy Science

Although my most recent book, The Poisoner’s Handbook, is about murder and the invention of forensic toxicology in the early 20th century, my earlier works have focused on primate research, the science of affection, biology of gender differences, and even a 19th century scientific quest to prove that we live on after death. Does this variety of interests suggest a short attention span? Well, maybe. But it’s more that I’m fascinated by the intersection of science and society – how each changes the other – and by the very human story of science itself. All my books seek to explore that terrain in different ways. The last three focus on moments in the history of science as a way of looking at ideas that have changed the way we think.
This blog is about such moments – past and present – that illuminate the way we think about our world. It may focus on research from the past. It may be about current investigations. It may concern tales from my books, from those already published to works in progress. I welcome all comments, suggestions, and blog ideas.

Did I mention she wrote The Poisoner’s Handbook?

A recent notice in the NIH Guide (NOT-OD-10-089 Enhancing Peer Review: Expectation for Service on NIH Peer Review and Advisory Groups) uses a very finely crafted term:

With this new* expectation for service, the NIH thanks the many thousands of individuals who have served, or who have yet to serve, the NIH through our peer review system and other NIH Advisory Groups.

Expectation. You are expected to help with the review of grants if you are serving as the PI on a grant award from the NIH.

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A recent notice in the NIH Guide (NOT-OD-10-089 Enhancing Peer Review: Expectation for Service on NIH Peer Review and Advisory Groups) uses a very finely crafted term:

With this new* expectation for service, the NIH thanks the many thousands of individuals who have served, or who have yet to serve, the NIH through our peer review system and other NIH Advisory Groups.

Expectation. You are expected to help with the review of grants if you are serving as the PI on a grant award from the NIH.

Read the rest of this entry »

Candid Engineer has reached a critical turning point in the gradual maturation of a scientist from bench jockey to Principal Investigator.

I don’t know if I ever really realized that the day would come when I wouldn’t understand the details of experiments being done in my name. That at some point, my interns would be doing experiments that I can’t even pronounce, that they’d be teaching one another, without passing the information through me. That one would come to me and say, “I’ve been thinking about it, and I’m almost positive that it would be better to smash the Mango peel before adding it to the blender”. And that I’d look at him, and think “I have no fucking clue what he’s talking about because I don’t know how to operate the blender”, but somehow smile and say, “I trust you, you know what is best experimentally”

.
That day had better arrive or your are going to be in for a world of hurt as a lab head trying to survive and get some science accomplished.

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I’ve been having a discussion on this topic in another venue.
It boils down to what I see as traditional scientific career counselling to the effect that there is something wrong or inadvisable about staying in the same geographical location or University when a scientist move across the training stages. From undergrad to grad, grad to postdoc or postdoc to faculty.
For the purposes of this poll I would like you to reflect experiences that are first hand. Things that have been said directly to you, either personally or in a group mentoring/career advice session. Check as many as apply. (If you want anyone to see your “other” responses, post it in the comments too. For some reason the freebie PollDaddy doesn’t permit anyone other than me to see those)

Which science career advice have you heard first hand?customer surveys

A tweet from @NatureNews alerts to a poll they are running.

Is your career advancement tied to article metrics? What else are administrators looking at? Take our poll http://bit.ly/b9Hib9 Please RT!

I feel confident that my readership would like to have its viewpoint included.
The weirdest thing I noticed about it is that they have options for “Assistant Professor” and “Professor” but no “Associate Professor” on the job title question. Just sloppy? or does Britland academia lack that step?
Actually I noticed that they fail to mention any IRB oversight as well. Since they state they intend to publish the results of the survey this seems an error.

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