May 4, 2012
September 10, 2011
Whether I think it sad or not, it is true. From postdocs to grad students to rotation students, summer interns and technicians…
The best thing to do as a mentor is to make sure they are on projects which earn them an authorship, preferably sooner rather than later.
Learning a bunch of stuff is comparatively less important.
August 19, 2011
Unless you have been hiding under a rock, my NIH-focused Reader, you will have heard of the explosive findings of Ginther et al (2011) who reported on an analysis of racial and ethnic disparity in the review and funding of NIH grant applications.
There is a lot to discuss about these findings. A LOT. Well beyond the scope of one or even six blog posts. Commentary from the Office of Extramural Research, the NIMH and the Chronicle of Higher Education are worthwhile reads and there is a bit on National Public Radio as well. Blogger Bashir suggests* that these data prove that if you are African-American you have to be twice as good to succeed.
I’m going to jump right into some grant review geekery. I’m sure you are shocked.
August 18, 2011
I have just been informed that ScienceBlogs will no longer be hosting anonymous or pseudonymous bloggers. In case you are interested, despite extensive communication from many of us as to why we blog under pseudonyms, I have not been given any rationale or reason for this move. Particularly, no rationale or reason that responds to the many valid points raised by the pseudonymous folks.
This is, as they say, not unexpected. It is pretty clear that when corporate flacks ask you for your opinion in response to their reflexive stance they are not in fact going to be influenced. So I do hope none of my colleagues are surprised by this. Disappointed, as am I, but not surprised.
I am not certain when the drop-dead date will occur but you will no doubt be able to find me blogging elsewhere.
A recent paper from Brents et al. (PubMed) presents the data that we’ve been hearing about for the past several months. I think leigh of the Neurodynamics blog (see posts on THC and cannabimimetic/JWH-018 pharmacology), may have been the first to report seeing these data at a meeting and then I ran across them at CPDD this past June.
As many of you are fully aware by now, the past couple years has witnessed the emergence of broad popular use of “synthetic marijuana” or cannabimimetic products. They have been retailed widely as small (usually 3g) packets of various plant materials sprayed with a growing list of synthetic drugs which all seem to have full agonist properties at the endocannabinoid 1 receptor subtype (CB1). A series created by J. W. Huffman have been commonly reported, thus you will see reference to the compounds themselves, JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-081, etc.
August 16, 2011
Representative Roscoe Bartlett (R, Maryland) had an Op/Ed bit up in the NYT a few days ago. He’s against the use of chimpanzees in research.
Fair enough, our elected Representatives are welcome to their opinions. But there were two glaring items that require correction or comment.
First, he tells tall tales about Nim.
Go give your answer at The Tightrope blog.
I’d say that for substance-abuse type disciplines, the answer is no. There do seem to be a lot of K99/R00 folks being hired though.
August 14, 2011
Commenter Grumble recently grumbled:
Yes, but what is the quality of the science when scientists have to spend so much of their time writing grants? Essentially what you are saying is that any PI needs to constantly apply for grants, just get an occasional award to keep the lab afloat. I have managed to survive so far by submitting a constant stream of grants, but I have precious little time left for anything else. According to you, I’m not “failing to do my fucken job,” but according to me I am failing to do my fucken job because I don’t actually do science; I do fund-raising.
I have two responses. First, yes there will be some intervals where you do nearly nothing other than write grants. But these are not literally encompassing your entire job month in, month out. At the start of your career, sure it may take 2-3 months to prepare one grant submission. It is necessary, however, that you quickly get to the point where you can put together something credible with many fewer hours of work. This is made possible through the wonders of cut and paste, partially, but also because grantsmithing is a skill that you refine with practice. The real heavy lifting on the science part, for me, seems to occur over maybe two long and extremely focused stints of keyboard pounding.
The second response is a reminder that much of the intellectual work that is necessary for grant writing is the very essence of “doing science”. Especially when you consider the role of the Principal Investigator.
The NHLBI will continue a commitment to help ESIs by a policy of maintaining separate paylines for new competing (Type 1) R01 and First Renewal (Type 2) applications in accordance with NIH guidelines. Regardless of amendment status, the paylines for new competing (Type 1) and First Renewal (Type 2) ESI R01 applications will be 5 percentile points above the regular R01 paylines for unamended (A0) applications in FY 2011. In addition and also regardless of amendment status, new competing (Type 1) ESI R01 applications that are >5 but <=10 percentile points above the regular R01 paylines for unamended (A0) applications in FY 2011 may undergo an expedited review to resolve comments in the summary statement. The funding policies will apply to all new competing (Type 1) and First Renewal (Type 2) ESI R01 applications under special funding consideration regardless of the amendment status of the application. All awards to ESI applicants under this policy will be funded for all years recommended by the NHLBAC. Please note that the NHLBI considers both NI and ESI status to have been determined at the time of the initial A0 grant application submission.
This is going to really, really anger the late Assistant Prof folks out there who are looking down the barrel of tenure decisions. Decisions in which the ability to renew their first (very hard won) award looms large.
As well it should anger them.
1) Tell me about you. 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? Let loose with those comments.
2) Tell someone else about this blog and in particular, try and choose someone who’s not a scientist but who you think might be interested in the type of stuff found in this blog. Ever had family members or groups of friends who’ve been giving you strange, pitying looks when you try to wax scientific on them? Send ‘em here and let’s see what they say.
I found the comments in response to this fascinating and used the excuse to meme it here. Things kinda took off after that.
June 7, 2011
A Twitt from the Foundation for Alcohol Research (@AlcoholResearch) today struck my attention. It sounded to me like the usual slippery slope of creating human health prescriptions from limited scientific findings.
Teen athletes may drink more, but smoke less & use fewer drugs. How do you lessen your teen’s risk? http://bit.ly/mysWna
The link is to their newsletter which overviews a paper by Terry-McElrath and O’Malley, currently in pre-print at Addiction. The overview is pretty straightforward, based closely on the paper and eschews the problem with the Twitt, which was the question as to whether you could “lessen your teen’s risk”. So I am mostly mollified.
The paper in question reports data from a survey of over 11,000 US high school seniors (classes of 1986-2001), captured as seniors and then followed longitudinally until age 26. These data were collected as part of the Monitoring the Future study which we discuss quite frequently on this blog.
The key focus of this paper is on the amount of physical activity the surveyed HS seniors reported at first contact. The Participation in Sports, Athletics or Exercising (PSAE) measure was derived:
…by asking, “How often do you actively participate in sports, athletics or exercising” (1=never, 2=a few times a year, 3=once or twice a month, 4=at least once a week, 5=almost every day).
April 29, 2011
in the event, unlikely as it is, that you have not seen this, you need to.
A follow up Q&A with Baratunde
And Trump inserts himself and says he’s proud of the role he played, and says, “We have to verify this birth certificate. I have to take a look at this.” Historically, it’s quite dastardly, but not uncommon. For most of our history, any white person could grab any black person off the street and demand they dance. Or produce documents. Or kill that person, who wasn’t considered a person.
And Trump says he wants to just walk into the White House and touch this document? That he has the right to do so? You don’t have the right to do shit! You don’t have the right to roll up to the White House and say, “Show me your papers,” like it’s apartheid South Africa! In that, I could hear the voice of random white people in history, demanding money for my vote — wanting to know what’s my business in this part of town.
April 28, 2011
In case you missed it, there is a great column up at Nature News by Professor Hidde Ploegh. It laments the ever increasing demands by reviewers of scientific manuscripts, particularly for GlamourMag level journals, for additional experiments.
Submit a biomedical-research paper to Nature or other high-profile journals, and a common recommendation often comes back from referees: perform additional experiments. Although such extra work can provide important support for the results being presented, all too frequently it represents instead an entirely new phase of the project, or does not extend the reach of what is reported.
The comments are shaping up quite nicely (also see my post at Scientopia) over there and I was struck by one particular contrast.
Maxine Clarke, Publishing Executive Editor (and listed fourth on the masthead) of Nature, issues a denial of culpability when she says:
April 27, 2011
The Internets are so awesomely entertaining that you cannot even wonder why there exists a PhD program in poultry science
A strong indicator of the fact that African Americans as a group continue to avoid most of the natural sciences appears in the statistics for specific disciplines. In 2004, 2,100 doctorates were awarded by universities in the United States in the fields of mathematical statistics, botany, optics physics, human and animal pathology, zoology, astrophysics, geometry, geophysics and seismology, general mathematics, nuclear physics, astronomy, marine sciences, nuclear engineering, polymer and plastics engineering, veterinary medicine, topology, hydrology and water resources, animal nutrition, wildlife/range management, number theory, fisheries science and management, atmospheric dynamics, engineering physics, paleontology, plant physiology, general atmospheric science, mathematical operations research, endocrinology, metallurgical engineering, meteorology, ocean engineering, poultry science, stratigraphy and sedimentation, wood science, polymer physics, acoustics, mineralogy and petrology, bacteriology, logic, ceramics science engineering, animal breeding and genetics, computing theory and practice, and mining and mineral engineering. Not one of these 2,100 doctoral degrees went to an African American.
or more specifically in chicken “products technology“
The UGA Poultry Science Department offers specialized training in physiology, genetics, nutrition, products technology, parasitology, toxicology, microbiology and molecular biology leading to the M.S. or Ph.D. degrees in Poultry Science.