Hoo boy. Dr. Becca has a live one over at Fumbling Towards Tenure Track.

I am got the dream got at a Tier 1 institution. It is what I expected but in reality it sucks. want to find a way out. Be careful what you wish for.

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January 19, 2011

Linear, sigmoidal, arc and exponential.

I’m certain you can find career paths of biomedical research PIs that can be so described. You can think of the dependent variable as a conglomerate measure of lab size- people, funding, space, collaborations and vigor.

I used to see a lot of sigmoids in my subfield peers.

A slow start, struggling to land that first major funding. Hard to find or hard to fund postdocs so making do with techs, undergrads and maybe a grad student who don’t know any better.

Eventually things click, the grant clouds pour down direct costs rain and the postdocs come a-running.

A successful career launch.

It feels as though I’m seeing a lot more interruptions lately. Peeps who I thought were, and should be, on the steep part of the curve suffering an interruption of some sort. Not always sure why…after all it’s kinda rude to front your colleagues about perceived slowdowns. Unless you are the Chair, I suppose. I tend to assume it is because the grant dice just aren’t coming up. And there is very little room for error in the current funding environment. Very different from when I was just getting started in my independent phase.

Watching the people that I like take a hit in what should be a time of scientific vigor in their career path is unpleasant.

This moment

January 19, 2011

We have some great stuff in the hopper.

Immediate data flow is rocking, I get PI crack updates every few days that are fun and fascinating.

Middle term, the projects themselves are on track and doing what they are supposed to be doing, I.e. turning up unexpected leads for more studies. Moar! I say!

Long term we have almost a programmatic effort going on at least two things I’ve been working on for a couple, three years.

The last is my *job*, of course. That’s what the PI is supposed to be doing. Getting the several year plan harmonized into a program of investigation. Lining up the people, of course. And the funding. And wrangling the local institution into doing what you need it to do.

The data-crack is undeniable. It is a powerful and immediate reinforcer. So are new hypotheses and unexpected results that need to be figured out, investigated and nailed down with more data.

But the *programmatic* successes?


I like my job quite a lot today.

There are certain things I have recently been informed that it is improper to discuss in mixed company.
So I’ll put the rest of the discussion after the jump.

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as is our wont, the CPP and I had a recent email exchange…

Your Humble Narrator: honestly sometimes I get commenters that make so little sense I question whether I am getting demented- because I cannot for the life of me make out what they fuck they mean….

Comrade PhysioProf: I am having trouble reconciling this d00d’s illiterate paranoid ravings with his claim that he is funded by [some institute].

Your Humble Narrator: just like [that dude] over at writedit’s it is amazing to me that people with such wackadoodle paranoid outlooks could ever write a revised grant that is anything other than ranting.

Comrade PhysioProf: I’m sure people read some of the shitte we write and thinke the same thinge!

Your Humble Narrator: touché!

Holy crapoli on a cannoli!

I missed the webcast of Harold Varmus’ recent townhall and it doesn’t appear to be up yet on the web. [UPDATE: Here’s the videocast] But a commenter named lula over at writedit’s pad says:

Although not is as many words, Varmus said that there will not be a payline for the NCI in FY2011. He indicated that funding selection will be made in a case by case basis with input from program leaders, and taking into consideration programmatic priorities, etc. The only number that he put out there was 7%, by means of suggesting that grants within this or lower percentiles would be funded; honestly he sounded unconvincing (and unconvinced) about the whole process and a bit at loss on how to explain it. He also reiterated the NCI’s commitment to NI/ESI but without any specifics.

This was affirmed by another commenter.

Have we sunk down so far that there is no point in having a payline? Will Program staff be making their priority decisions for *everything* at NCI?

The thinkin' chair

January 11, 2011

This question is mostly for the PIs in the audience. Now, I know about your trips to the coffee shop to hide out from your lab member’s quotidian interruptions that can blow your day if you aren’t careful. Not talking about that. When you are in your office do you ever sit elsewhere than in front of your computer workstation?

I need to do that more. Sit across the room with a document, manuscript, paper..or even nothing. Just sit and think quietly.

I don’t do enough of that.