In what is probably the best movie ever made about professional athletics, exuberantly enthusiastic hockey goon Steve Hanson inquires of the near criminally sociopathic hockey goon Ogie Ogilthorpe, “Hi Ogie. Buy you a soda after the game?”. If you’ve never seen the 1977 classic Slap Shot, go rent it today (in the event you have to talk anyone into it, it does star Paul Newman, so there’s that). Players and non-players alike laugh at this scene but I fear for different reasons. It is set up as the classic absurdist moment within the context of the drama- why ever would two utter goons make nice after the game? For the player, however, there is an additional dimension. Hockey players do make nice after the game, even after trying to beat the living crap out of one another.
Here begineth the lesson.

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December 12, 2008

Didn’t we just discuss some directive from NIH that is supposed to discourage newly independent investigators from applying for R03 and R21 awards, and to focus on R01s? Well, check this motherfucking shit out:
NIDA’s got a special R03 program solely for newly independent investigators with a max of $25,000 directs per motherfucking YEAR! And the application’s 10 motherfucking pages. Are these NIDA motherfuckers smoking the government ditchweed!?!?!?

I originally posted this Jan 09, 2008 on the old blog (this version has been lightly improved from the prior version). It has been one of my more popular posts when it comes to Google hits.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began sending warning letters to sellers of so called “bio-identical hormone replacement therapy” today according to an AP report. Apparently the claims for alleviating menopausal symptoms are

not supported by medical evidence and are considered false and misleading.

Needless to say, these “compounded” products are being sold without FDA approval. It’s all a conspiracy man! Dang FDA is a tool of BigPharma trying to keep cheap and effective remedies from the public. Noted tool of TheMan(BigPharmaDivision) Abel Pharmboy has a recent post in which he touches on “cosmeceutical” marketing of drugs and the FDA’s authority to regulate cosmetics under

their regulatory authority is in part ordered by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938 (and subsequent legislation).

This reminds me of the glory days of the quack remedy / patent medicine era and today, from the mouldering archives, we take up a Case Report published by A. B. Hirsch, M.D. [“Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup. American Medical Journal, 1884, 12(11):504-506] which is available from Google Books here. A footnote indicates that this Abstract was read before the Philadelphia County Medical Society on Sept 17, 1884. Ahh, Mrs. Winslow’s . Used for over 60 years by mothers for their teething children.

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Fun with Wordle

December 12, 2008

How To Write A Retraction

December 11, 2008

From this week’s Nature:

Portions of the work repeated with respect to abscisic acid (ABA) binding have revealed errors in the calculations associated with Fig. 1, with the result that the molar ratio of ABA bound to FCA is substantially lower than claimed. There are also difficulties with the data in Fig. 2a, b that arose from the preparation of FY. We conclude that there is no effect of ABA on the FCA-FY interaction, and therefore requested to retract this paper on 14 July 2008. See the Brief Communication Arising in this issue.

See how easy it is to explain what is wrong with the data, but without attributing blame or personal responsibility?

A recent post observing a lack of gender diversity in a scientific venue sparked rather a lot of discussion. For this blog, 158 Screechy Monkeys (at writing) is quite a conversation.
The conversation here is only part of a discussion that spans several blogs. While I’m sure most of you have been playing in all the comment threads, in case you missed a few.
drdrA’s post initiated the original discussion: This Just In: Pipeline Broken Before First R01
Isis the Scientist: Science and Motherhood are Not for the Faint of Heart…
Stephanie Z at Almost Diamonds: How to Hijack a Thread
River Tam at Professor Chaos: She was just invited because…
Please drop a comment if there are blog posts that I’ve missed.

I ran across the Prof-like Substance blog a little while ago and thought you might enjoy it as well, Dear Readers. The author, Prof-like Substance (inaugural post here), is:

a faculty member at a northeastern university who started in August 2008.

and the eponymous blog is dedicated to:

Sharing the highs and lows of becoming a new faculty member in a university science department

If that’s not enough to induce you to click, read on.

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Hints on New NIH COI Rules

December 10, 2008

I recently referred to a presentation by the Director of NIMH in which he referred to some new initiatives to deal with Conflict of Interest for NIH grantees.

Insel was asked about the tension between his calls for bench to bedside and bedside to practice translation and the conflict of interest scandals associated with the Grassley investigations. He responded that NIH was trying to get more authority to make rules for NIH grantees. Interesting. Of course with what we know about the most egregious cases the allegation is that the scientists in question were already failing to follow the existing disclosure requirements of their institutions. So what are new rules going to do?

I ran across an initial hint over at the Science Insider blog hosted by Science magazine.

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Sigh. You know when you are sitting there in a scientific meeting, thinking good sciency thoughts when…you notice. Oh damn.
Let me do some quick calculations on the program notes here…hmmm, zero, zero, two, one, zero, zero, one, one, two, zero, two. Ugh. 22% in one set of platform presentations, less than 10% in a set of roundtable breakouts.
Women scientists, that is. Dammit. Guess I have an email or two to write…
Go read DrDrA’s post on the success of senior women investigators in acquiring NIH funding to cheer yourself up- it’s at least better than this dismal showing.

Secret Science

December 8, 2008

Although I frequently josh the OpenAccess!!!!111!!!!111!!!! crowd I am careful to note that I agree with the sentiment that as much science as possible should be readily available to the world audience. I applauded the move by the NIH and other funding agencies to require that manuscripts produced under their grant awards be placed in the PubMed Central repository. This last point is actually pertinent to today’s discussion.
Are unusual efforts to keep science secret a violation of these publication rules? In spirit if not in actual point of law?
A few colleagues and I have been discussing some highly important RULZ sent out by an academic society at the opening of their annual meeting. The short version is: NO BLOGGING!!!!!

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I recently had the opportunity to hear NIMH Director Tom Insel give a presentation of current and upcoming NIMH funding priorities. He referred to the charge of the most recent NIHM Strategic Plan which lists four major categories.

* Promote discovery in the brain and behavioral sciences to fuel research on the causes of mental disorders
* Chart mental illness trajectories to determine when, where, and how to intervene
* Develop new and better interventions that incorporate the diverse needs and circumstances of people with mental illnesses
* Strengthen the public health impact of NIMH-supported research

Okay this sounds like normal translational stuff, right? The question is always to determine how committed a given IC is to the theme. NIMH appears to be quite committed indeed.

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An opinion piece in the Washington Post touches on generational that might be of interest to the recent discussions around here about scientific generations. Author Neil Howe asks “Who is the Real ‘Dumbest Generation’?”. [h/t: Bora]

It is the prerogative of every generation of graybeards to look down the age ladder and accuse today’s young of sloth, greed, selfishness — and stupidity.

the underlying question is worth pursuing: If the data are objectively assessed, which age-slice of today’s working-age adults really does deserve to be called the dumbest generation?
The answer may surprise you.

It doesn’t surprise Your Humble Narrator one bit.

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The rules for this blog meme are quite simple.
-Post the link and first sentence from the first blog entry for each month of the past year.
I did this meme last year, after seeing similar posted by Janet Stemwedel and John Lynch.

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I hope I am missing something. When NIH switched to electronic submission there was massive outcry because the system they were using was so bloody stupid. “Why not just go with nice and easy Adobe pdf forms?”, asked anyone and everyone who had to use the new PureEdge nonsense.
So NIH responded and promised a new Adobe based version. Coolio, we thought.
Well, the notice of the new forms is out. Eagerly I navigated to a Funding Opportunity Announcement RFA.
They have got to be kidding me!!!!!!!!!!

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Research science differs in few ways that matter when it comes to the political, economical and social power structures of the workplace. Even including the fact that the powers that be use the implicit and explicit argument that we are in a unique environment placed outside of normal job-space as a tool to pull the usual exploitative, hierarchical shenanigans. (I should say “necessary” shenanigans. Do not, DearReader, confuse my analysis of the situation with an objection to capitalistic social structures per se. Consider it rather an exhortation to consider science a career path that requires many of the same bandaids and workarounds that we’ve found to improve other workplaces.)
My rather sustained focus on careerism issues is easily fitted into a larger picture of my understanding that science is just another job in many essentials. One of these essentials is, of course, the relationship of the industry to its labor force.

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