A little while ago Isis the Scientist posted a reader question about whether an academic trainee should broach mental illness issues with his or her PI. As Isis said, it is one heck of a question. To be honest, Isis alluded to the topic in an email prior to writing her post and I basically had no good suggestions.
Today, PalMD has posted a letter from another academic trainee who suffers from depression. I encourage you PIs in my audience to go over there and comment.
Some of the reasons I view this as an incredibly difficult situation are after the jump

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Okay, I did a little snooping around our hit stats and discovered that we could use some targeted clicking to push a couple of the blogs that are donating their June payout to the Doctors Without Borders / Medicins sans Frontieres over the next pay threshold. So if you all read a couple of extra archived posts, maybe send one to a few friends, Twitt it or whatnot we’ll be doing well. If you are a SuperReader, you might think of putting a post, old or new, from one of these blogs on the Reader’s Picks list.
First up is:

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A small note of thanks for *reading this month DearReader since the blog is participating in the End the Silence campaign to raise awareness of sexual violence.
Scicurious points out that this is just the beginning.
Sheril Kirshenbaum has a new post, with soundtrack, up over at The Intersection.
I’ll also draw your attention to the www.stopsilence.com website, spearheaded by Arikia Millikin.
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*We’ve made an incremental traffic payout threshold in the last day or so and would have little chance of making the next one by the end of today. So you might as well devote your last-minute clicking to other blogs. Perhaps I’ll be able to round up a list of where you can do the most good a bit later.

The President of the University of California system oversees one heck of a lot of NIH-funded research. As we have discussed the biomedical research enterprise has been put under pressure not just by the prior interval of flat-lined (un-doubled, actually) NIH budgets.
President Mark Yudof raises some interesting issues in a video to his University.

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Here we go again. Celebrity dies at a slightly unusual age from an acute failure of essential bodily physiological competence and I’m thinking about drugs. My man @abelpharmboy sent me a note yesterday anticipating the same thing I did when learning of Michael Jackson’s heart attack and demise. [Update: Abel Pharmboy’s post on Demerol and cardiac arrest] Now of course our resident expert in the relevant physiological systems cautioned that I was perhaps jumping the gun. To which I confessed a hammer/nail orientation. Still.
Sure enough, at least one person close to MJ is railing about the drugs.

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This would be totally cool. No, really.
As noted over at Grrl Scientist’s blog, Quark Expeditions is running a contest to select a blogger to join them for a trip to Antarctica.

Quark Expeditions is searching for an Official Blogger to join a voyage to Antarctica. Do you have a passion for the polar regions? A commitment to the environment? An insatiable urge to photograph penguins?

Hello? A blogger who specializes in photographs and ecology and genes and behavior and all bloody things bird? Who else could possible be better than Sb’s own Grrl Scientist at blogging an expedition? I mean, d00d, she even handles cold weather!
As of today I notice that Grrl is sitting in second place with 243 votes, close behind the current leader at 251. The two next-best placed folks are at 118 and 100 votes. That’s it? A few hundred votes* is going to decide this thing? Get cracking people! Go over there and vote for Grrl.
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*The need to register in order to vote may be cutting down the numbers a bit so be prepared to make a few extra clicks. It’ll be worth it!

So one thing you can request of your Senator or Congress person is quite simple. Does your delegate believe in these three principles? Has s/he signed the petition yet?


The Pro-Test Petition
We the undersigned believe:

  1. That animal research has contributed and continues to contribute to major advances in the length and quality of our lives. It remains vital to understanding basic biological processes and for the development of new treatments and therapies such as antibiotics, vaccines, organ transplants, and cancer medicines.
  2. That animal research is morally justifiable provided animal welfare remains a high priority and no valid non-animal alternatives are available.
  3. That violence, intimidation and harassment of scientists and others involved in animal research is neither a legitimate means of protest, nor morally justified.

Now and again I urge my US readers to call or write their Congressional delegates (find yours here) to advocate for one science-related topic or another. One of the things that I would encourage you including as part of each and every letter is a statement about the amount of NIH funding that flows into his or her State or District.
So it might be worth a stroll on over to RePORTER to do some quick research on NIH funding by State and Congressional District.

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Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) along with Representatives Bart Gordon (D-Tenn) and Ralph Hall (R-Texas) are seeking input from the National Academy of Science, Institute of Medicine and National Academy of Engineering on the state of the US research universities. Their letter (pdf) notes:

We are concerned that they are at risk

Good! Glad you’ve noticed. How can we help, my good Critters?

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Chris Mooney of The Intersection has a post up wondering how to rouse the great “silent majority”. You know, to oppose the evul New Atheist fringe which is RUININGZ TEH PROGRESSIVITY AGENDAZ!!!1111!!!! Apparently. Something of that nature.

my sense, too, is that the silent majority doesn’t side with either of the extremes.

At the same time, though, let’s face it-in the science blogosphere, we don’t hear a lot from the “silent majority.” Rather, and admittedly with some important exceptions, we hear from the New Atheists.
Yet I am arguing on behalf of the silent majority,

Are you Chris? Why do these types (much like the Moral Majority folks) assume that everyone who is not ranting loudly against them is secretly on their side?

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RePORTER!!
This is so much better.
h/t: writedit


Digital Robotic Unit Generated for Masterful Observation, Nocturnal Killing and Efficient Yelling


Get Your Cyborg Name

h/t: Abel OnlineYellBoy

You may have been following with some interest the statements made by an apparent biomedical science blogger, Dr. J., regarding the unacceptability of the use of cats in biomedical research. The post and subsequent comments from Dr. J follow a familiar track- the arbitrary personal standard (poorly defined), ignorance or intentional misrepresentation of the conduct of research and threats of violence against animal researchers. The only news here, I suppose, is that it is coming from someone who is engaged in some sort of biomedical research which, of course, relies directly and indirectly on the use of animals including vertebrates. (It is worth reading the comment thread because there are nice descriptions of why certain species are preferred for vision research over others.) If you would like additional discussion, see posts from Drs. Isis and Stemwedel.
A Voice of Lunacy From Within the Scientific Community
Non-rational lines, empathy, and animal research
[ This might be a good time to click on over and sign the Pro-Test petition in support of the responsible, well-regulated conduct of animal research, if you have not already done so. It has gone over 9,000 signatures recently but we must keep going. If the UK can gain 20,000 signatures on a similar petition, the US at 5 times the population should target 100,000. ]
I have little specific to add to the current discussion about Dr. J.’s blog comments because the usual misrepresentations about the conduct of feline research are too fuzzy to address meaningfully. It does, however, give me the opportunity to remind you about the Michael D. Hayre Fellowship:

The Americans for Medical Progress/Michael D. Hayre Fellowship in Public Outreach, established in 2008, promotes peer education about animal research among students and young adults aged 18-30. Named in memory of Michael D. Hayre, DVM, ACLAM, the Fellowship provides support for peer outreach and education projects in the United States.
The first AMP/Hayre Fellow was Tom Holder, a recent graduate of Oxford University and a leader of the U.K. research support group Pro-Test. Tom toured the U.S. in 2008, speaking to students and others on campuses and at biomedical research facilities. Tom’s work as a Hayre Fellow included the creation of Speaking of Research, an outreach and advocacy website and online network.

Although the deadline for this year’s applicants has just passed, be sure to pass this around to any trainees you think might be looking to go into a science-policy or science-communication direction.
I also ask you to consider making a small donation to continue funding this program and, dare we hope, expand it. Education on the value and reality of animal research continues to be the key. As we have discussed here and around the blogosphere, much of the anti-animal research ground game depends on the misrepresentation of reality. Misrepresentation of the value of the scientific findings, misrepresentation of the current alternatives and misrepresentation of the regulatory and oversight conditions of the research. In my view, the first Hayre Fellow, Tom Holder has done a magnificent job in promoting outreach and awareness*…but it is only a relative drop in the bucket. We can do better.
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*are you on Twitter? Are you following @RaisingVoices, @uclaresearcher and @medicalprogress?


BikeMonkey Guest Post
Professional sports continues to suffer from doping scandal. Although it is understood that preparation for the highest levels of competition involves considerably more than “training”, most sports have enacted rules to distinguish allowable training/preparation aids from “cheating“. This is by no means new. Nor is it over, the cycling world is poised for the now-traditional pre-Tour revelations of doping which will re-shuffle the lineup on July 4th.
But rules violations are in some ways uninteresting. There are rules to sport and if you break them you are penalized. Within that context, the nature of cheating and the ethical concepts of fair play are operationalized. Boring.
More interesting is to consider the essentially arbitrary distinctions that create the rules in the first place. Take Lance Armstrong. Winner of a record number of Tours de France, dominant rider and all around cycling icon. Did I mention he was making a come-back at his ripe old age and after a several year layoff? Great stuff.
And this was all possible only because he decided to have cancer.

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Nicholas Kristoff of the NYT has an Op-Ed Column up which questions the Drug War. When it comes to asking about the cost of incarceration and interdiction, I have no bloggable opinion. As my readers know, I don’t really delve into policy issues on this front.
My main problem is when Kristoff trots out the usual dismissal of the public health costs of de-criminalization and, in particular, resorts to an argument which is so disconnected from any logical reality it is laughable. Or it would be, if I couldn’t see otherwise intelligent people nodding along in agreement.

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