The whispers have been steadily gaining strength for a good while now. Gossip is rampant. People are reporting their NIDA contacts as doing a lot of “gloating”. Nothing really bloggable until now.
The Research Society on Alcoholism has issued a review of a just completed two day meeting to decide what to do. I’m mulling over the brief report, more later.
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Update 050109:
Links to the NIH Scientific Management Review Board Agenda, Federal Register Notice and a webcast are here.
The RSA overview text is here.
I think we can safely say the traditional alcohol research constituencies are registering a vote against merger.
The NRC/IOM report Enhancing the Vitality of the National Institutes of Health: Organizational Change to Meet New Challenges (2003) is here. The recommendation on the process of consolidation starts on page 70. On the next page I note two specific mergers were proposed, NIDA/NIAAA and NIGMS/NHGRI, right from the start. I have no dog in the latter hunt but the NIDA/NIAAA is a “no duh” as far as I am concerned. I will admit this is because I am only vaguely aware of the arguments for keeping alcohol separate. I’ll be looking to hear those arguments in the coming months. Another interesting proposal is on page 73. This mentions NIMH and NINDS briefly but together this might argue that all four perhaps be collected into an omnibus Brain Institute. This is not as crazy as you might think. The NCI budget is about $4.8 billion, the NIMH/NINDS/NIDA/NIAAA total would be about $4.3 billion.

There are two retractions in PNAS this week. Here is the body of the first one:

The authors wish to note the following: “After thorough efforts by K. Berry in the laboratory of J. A. Doudna to reproduce our reported IRES-specific translational inhibition were unsuccessful, we initiated an extensive effort to reproduce the IRES-specific peptide binding. These experiments, carried out with the assistance of Y. Guillen in the laboratory of J. W. Szostak, also failed to confirm our previously published results. Therefore, we retract the paper. We sincerely apologize for any confusion that the publication of this study may have caused.”

Translation: “There is a fraud investigation going on right now.”
Here is the second:

The undersigned authors wish to note the following: “We have discovered errors in some of the figures in this paper. Therefore, the undersigned authors regretfully retract the paper.”

Translation: “There is a fraud investigation going on right now.”

Meh.
Amanda Schaffer has a piece up on Slate subtitled “The biomedical research community goes bananas for $200 million in stimulus funding“.
I dunno. It just comes across as kinda negative to me.

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The Mixed Experience

April 30, 2009


BikeMonkey GuestPost
Reading over one of Razib’s pot stirrer posts, I was reminded of something I ran across last year and discussed elsewhere.
Light Skinned-ed Girl promotes the month of May as “Mixed Experience Month“. (And she had a series of posts last May on famous tan folk; it’s worth a browse.)
Oh jebus, not another freaking month of celebrating non-majority-cultureness!!!???? Why o why o why do we need this?

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Most of my readers will be unaware of this but one of the primary motivating factors triggers for ranting in this whole blogging thing was a dissatisfaction with the Wikipedia entry on MDMA. (It is a point of some pride that the current version of that entry references two posts of mine, as it happens.) Of course, this was only a specific trigger for a loose collection of motivations I have for advocacy and outreach on professionally-related topics.
It turns out that the Society for Neuroscience is thinking about online sources of scientific information too. They have launched an initiative to improve the Wikipedia entry for neuroscience.
The email letter I received is after the jump.

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Opening the DM mailbag over my coffee this morning I noticed the following query from a loyal friend of the blog:

I am working on getting [my first] R01 submitted [soon]. This is in keeping with many people saying that I need to get going as fast as possible with R01 (including yourself and cPP). Guest speaker, who is on a study section (not the one I am going to) said I should definitely wait two years so I can get things rolling before applying. hmmm.

Here’s the answer you need to give to such people:

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One of the interesting things I learned from Janet’s series on overcoming obstacles to discussing animal use in research appeared in the sixth installment. She noted:

because of the fear of being a target of a big, flashy instantiation of violent tactics, a lot of people do not publicize the other ways that they or those that they know have been targeted. The news doesn’t cover much in the way of “run of the mill” threats by phone or mail. That doesn’t mean they don’t happen, although I didn’t realize that they did until I became close enough to scientists who get them (death threats, threats to rape them or their spouses or their kids, other threats of bodily violence falling short of rape and murder) that they felt safe enough to mention them in conversation.

This is fascinating, if true. It does not excuse the commenter that pops up around these sorts of debates to whinge about calling a car incineration terrorism. That is pretty clear cut. But there is a perception voiced that researchers pose of paranoia over the activities of AR sympathizers is a bit over the top, perhaps disingenuous. I do wonder if this is out of an ignorance based in the fact that only the most outrageous attacks get widely publicized?

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