The NIH now has an updated (through FY 2009) series of slides and tables depicting several key stats on application submissions and success rates. Venture over the NIH Data Book page to view the carnage. It is nice that they put up the graphs but it can be a little frustrating because they don’t seem to put up much in the way of definition of terms. Although it is relatively easy to Google out the definition of “success rate” there are also slides depicting the funding rate.
Two teaser slides for my audience, as always I apologize for my inability to easily process these into readable form but you can go to the original site.
This first one shows the funding rate for grant applications from male and female PIs.

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As a bit of a followup to the poll we ran on whether or not cigarettes make you high, I offer context and my thoughts. As of this writing, btw, the votes are running 44% “Yes”, 47% “No”, the balance “other” with a fair bit of commentary to the effect that “high” is not exactly the right description for nicotine.
For the background, we might as well start with the comment from SurgPA:

This started with an email from PalMD asking why doctors react much more negatively to narcotics abusers than alcohol or nicotine abusers. I hypothesized that most people view acute use of the various drugs differently. Specifically I suspected that most doctors’ gut reactions when seeing someone light a cigarette are qualitatively (and vastly) different from seeing someone shoot heroin (or snort crushed oxycontin). In short that we don’t see the act of smoking as an acute intoxication by a neuroactive substance, even if we understand it intellectually.

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Thanks to a commenter for the link to this highly important public service message on drugs of abuse.

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ResearchBlogging.orgA recent paper set out to examine automobile driving skills in people who had previously used Ecstasy (presumptively 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine; MDMA) but were currently not using. Dastrup and colleagues (2010) used a driving simulator task in which the job was to maintain a set distance behind a lead vehicle (LV) displayed on the computer screen. The job was to stay abut two car lengths (given as 18 meters) behind the LV while accelerating to 55mph. My Google U conversion calculation makes 55 mph out to be about 25 meters / sec. I would therefore estimate the closing time between the cars as about 0.4-0.5 seconds, depending on car length and how much space you assume between these lengths. Thereafter the LV changed speed as depicted in the Figure 2 from the paper.
Dastrup10-fig2.pngThe horizontal line sits at the 55 mph point and you can see that the speed of the LV varies up to about 59 mph and down to about 51 mph with the maximum change taking place over about 18-20 seconds. .

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Today’s question comes from a reader and occasional commenter.

Does smoking a cigarette get you high?Market Research

I have the sneaking suspicion there will be a lot of people wanting to add caveats and modifications to these simple choices….have at it in the comments here because for some reason the polldaddy doesn’t seem to make the ‘other’ comments easily viewable.

BallStateU-BallBros.png

Here, here, here (photo credit)

BallStateU-BallBros.png

Here, here, here (photo credit)

Please join me in offering your congratulations to our good blog friend Scicurious of the Neurotopia blog. She has announced that the defense of her dissertation went brilliantly and she has been awarded her Ph.D.
This is a wonderful accomplishment and I do hope she is in the midst of enjoying the moment in the company of friends, colleagues and significant others. As many of my readers know, graduate school can be a hard and soul-crushing experience at times. Unfortunately, our business still delights in a “school of hard knocks” approach at certain stages of training. It is testament to grit, smarts, determination, desire and beyond all else a burning need to find stuff out when someone is finally admitted to the Tribe of doctoral scientists.
Welcome Sci!
For those of you who read both of our blogs, it should not be surprising that I operate in related and overlapping subfields of biomedical science with Scicurious. On this more personal note, I am overjoyed that such a highly promising young scientist has made it over this particular hurdle into the field. I am familiar with her doctoral work and it is impressive. Findings that will have sustained impact on her areas of investigation and ones that seem to me to have a great many implications for much broader areas of science.
Reading through the lines, as it were, I am also impressed that Sci has received what I consider to be some of the best, if not easiest, training if you want to eventually head your own laboratory. And that is the training of having to learn some pretty hard scientific approaches on your own hook, trouble shoot, refine and make them pump out data. It may be a bit of a bias of mine but I am far more impressed by a grad student or postdoc who had to build up a research capacity that was not the heart of the training PI’s lab than I am by an arm’s length list of papers coming from a “slot-into-the-machine-and-churn-it-out” trainee.
This is not just me talking, either. I hope I am not stepping too far out of line to observe that Sci has been on a great number of postdoctoral interviews with extremely well-respected laboratories and has received many offers. I am unsurprised by this- if there was a logical fit with my lab I would have been giving the hard sell myself. But it adds a little perspective to my comments- this is not just blogger homeslicery talking here. As it was, I had a lot of fun trying to pimp out a few of my peers to Sci, trying to get her to go work with them. I look forward to seeing where Sci lands in her next career step and I anticipate many more scientific accomplishments are on the horizon.
If you haven’t done so already I urge you to wander over to Neurotopia and leave her a congratulatory comment.

Please join me in offering your congratulations to our good blog friend Scicurious of the Neurotopia blog. She has announced that the defense of her dissertation went brilliantly and she has been awarded her Ph.D.
This is a wonderful accomplishment and I do hope she is in the midst of enjoying the moment in the company of friends, colleagues and significant others. As many of my readers know, graduate school can be a hard and soul-crushing experience at times. Unfortunately, our business still delights in a “school of hard knocks” approach at certain stages of training. It is testament to grit, smarts, determination, desire and beyond all else a burning need to find stuff out when someone is finally admitted to the Tribe of doctoral scientists.
Welcome Sci!
For those of you who read both of our blogs, it should not be surprising that I operate in related and overlapping subfields of biomedical science with Scicurious. On this more personal note, I am overjoyed that such a highly promising young scientist has made it over this particular hurdle into the field. I am familiar with her doctoral work and it is impressive. Findings that will have sustained impact on her areas of investigation and ones that seem to me to have a great many implications for much broader areas of science.
Reading through the lines, as it were, I am also impressed that Sci has received what I consider to be some of the best, if not easiest, training if you want to eventually head your own laboratory. And that is the training of having to learn some pretty hard scientific approaches on your own hook, trouble shoot, refine and make them pump out data. It may be a bit of a bias of mine but I am far more impressed by a grad student or postdoc who had to build up a research capacity that was not the heart of the training PI’s lab than I am by an arm’s length list of papers coming from a “slot-into-the-machine-and-churn-it-out” trainee.
This is not just me talking, either. I hope I am not stepping too far out of line to observe that Sci has been on a great number of postdoctoral interviews with extremely well-respected laboratories and has received many offers. I am unsurprised by this- if there was a logical fit with my lab I would have been giving the hard sell myself. But it adds a little perspective to my comments- this is not just blogger homeslicery talking here. As it was, I had a lot of fun trying to pimp out a few of my peers to Sci, trying to get her to go work with them. I look forward to seeing where Sci lands in her next career step and I anticipate many more scientific accomplishments are on the horizon.
If you haven’t done so already I urge you to wander over to Neurotopia and leave her a congratulatory comment.

UK bans Mephedrone

April 8, 2010

The UK House of Lords has followed the riff-raff MPs in voting for a ban of the previously uncontrolled recreational drug 4-methymethcathinone (4-MMC, mephedrone, meow-meow, plant-food, etc). Prior observations from me are here and here.
This is a good opportunity to point to the report on the cathinones [ pdf ] that was created by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. This more or less echos my points in my prior posts that while we may know a bit about cathinones the available scientific knowledge is pretty pathetic compared to the amphetamine-class drugs. And essentially nothing has been published on 4-MMC/mephedrone.

Wow, has it really been a year? Time for the second annual rally in support of biomedical research. I’ll quote liberally from the UCLA Pro-Test for Science bit hosted at Speaking of Research:

In 2009, Pro-Test for Science held an historic rally on the UCLA campus; bringing over 700 people onto the streets in support of the scientists and researchers who carry out lifesaving medical research using laboratory animals. Such research continues to advance scientific knowledge and plays a vital role in the development of innovative treatments for human disease. However, animal rights extremists have continued to escalate their threats against researchers and their families.
On Thursday April 8th Pro-Test for Science will respond by rallying students, scientists and members of the public to support the cause of medical science. We call on the community to stand together against the recent tide of animal rights activism which has worked to misrepresent research and coerce those that carry it out.

A video from the rally held last year.

If you cannot attend perhaps you might want to take a look around Janet Stemwedel’s blog. She has a number of thoughtful entries on topic of Research with Animals that are fantastic starting points for your own discussions that you will be having with your friends, family and colleagues. My own posts on the topic are perhaps less fulfilling but you may find a nugget or two. I would point you specifically to the Lie of the Truncated Distribution, an introduction to the heavily regulated activity of animal research, a description of additional guidelines that carry the weight of law and regulation and why the use of mice and rats is well regulated despite the Helms amendment.
You might also read a computer guy demolishing the myth that animal research can be replaced with computer simulations and an extensive and link-heavy discussion of typical animal rights’ extremist tropes from Orac.
Happy reading.

The Seed Media Group media center has a press release out [ pdf ] bragging on how awesomez we in the Scienceblogs.com stable are. Key stats include:

ā€¢ Visits for the quarter ending March 31 grew by 41% year-over-year to approximately 13 million, and page views topped 25 million. Monthly unique visitors grew to 2.4 million worldwide and in the US surpassed 2 million for the first time this March.
ā€¢ Total visits for 2009 grew by 55% year-over-year to 45 million and average monthly unique visitors climbed 49% to 1.9 million.
ā€¢ ScienceBlogs.com has achieved high double-digit traffic growth (at least 50%) every year since its launch in 2006.

Nice job sciblings!!

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A recent comment revisits a perennial issue for those new to the NIH grant game. It is initially not clear to all grant writers that you do not need to pitch your grant to an audience of all biomedicine or even to your subfield at large. You need to pitch it to a set of about 15-30 people, most of whom you know specifically because they are serving 4 (*or 6!) years terms of service on the panel. The rest you can easily phenotype by reviewing the types of individuals who have served recently in an ad hoc capacity on the panel in question. This post originally appeared July 30, 2008.


A comment from drieken on a previous post asks:
Can anyone provide some context (eg, what’s a study section that’s not in the library?) for us not-yet-researchers?
This was echoed by a recent comment over at Evil Monkey’s pad.

is there an online resource that explains the entire grant review process (NIH, NSF, whatever)?

There was also an email I received some time ago asking for an overview of the NIH system (sorry for the delay on that!).
Let’s start with the NIH study section and how you should go about educating yourself with the information that you need to guide your own grant writing.

Read the rest of this entry »

A recent comment revisits a perennial issue for those new to the NIH grant game. It is initially not clear to all grant writers that you do not need to pitch your grant to an audience of all biomedicine or even to your subfield at large. You need to pitch it to a set of about 15-30 people, most of whom you know specifically because they are serving 4 (*or 6!) years terms of service on the panel. The rest you can easily phenotype by reviewing the types of individuals who have served recently in an ad hoc capacity on the panel in question. This post originally appeared July 30, 2008.


A comment from drieken on a previous post asks:
Can anyone provide some context (eg, what’s a study section that’s not in the library?) for us not-yet-researchers?
This was echoed by a recent comment over at Evil Monkey’s pad.

is there an online resource that explains the entire grant review process (NIH, NSF, whatever)?

There was also an email I received some time ago asking for an overview of the NIH system (sorry for the delay on that!).
Let’s start with the NIH study section and how you should go about educating yourself with the information that you need to guide your own grant writing.

Read the rest of this entry »

breadcrumbs…

April 5, 2010

in case you were wondering where I’ve been lately, I’m talking about those ballot-happy Californicans and their upcoming attempt to legalize recreational dope smoking over at A Vote for Science.