cross-posting from my Scienceblogs site:

I have just been informed that ScienceBlogs will no longer be hosting anonymous or pseudonymous bloggers. In case you are interested, despite extensive communication from many of us as to why we blog under pseudonyms, I have not been given any rationale or reason for this move. Particularly no rationale or reason that responds to the many valid points raised by the pseudonymous folks.

This is, as they say, not unexpected. It is pretty clear that when corporate flacks ask you for your opinion in response to their reflexive stance they are not in fact going to be influenced. So I do hope none of my colleagues are surprised by this. Disappointed, as am I, but not surprised.

I am not certain when the drop-dead date will occur but you will no doubt be able to find me blogging elsewhere.

oh boy.

This is going to be explosive. Jocelyn Kaiser reports:

But an in-depth analysis of grant data from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) on page 1015 in this issue of Science finds that the problem goes much deeper than impressions. Black Ph.D. scientists—and not other minorities—were far less likely to receive NIH funding for a research idea than a white scientist from a similar institution with the same research record. The gap was large: A black scientist’s chance of winning NIH funding was 10 percentage points lower than that of a white scientist.
[emphasis added-DM]

The report by Ginther et al is here, the key figure is below:

Let the race-splainin’ begin….

[h/t: Academic Lurker]

Additional commentary:
Sally Rockey, Office of Extramural Research
Tom Insel, NIMH
Chronicle of Higher Ed
National Public Radio

The NIH has put out a request for information (NOT-OD-11-106) to gain “Input into the Deliberations of the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director Working Group on the Future Biomedical Research Workforce“.
This blog, its readership and the corner of the blogosphere we inhabit has a slightly greater than passing interest in such matters. If you are not sure, here are a few areas of interest for this RFI:

  • The balance between supply, including the number of domestic and foreign trained PhDs and post-docs, and demand, i.e. post-training career opportunities.
  • Characteristics of PhD training in biomedical research, including issues such as
  • The length of the PhD training period.
  • Recommendations for changes to the PhD curriculum.
  • Training for multiple career paths (including bench and non-bench science).
  • Characteristics of clinician-research training including issues such as
    • The balance between MDs and MD/PhDs
    • Career development of clinician-researchers.
    • Recommendations for changes to the curricula for training clinician-researchers.
  • Length of Post-doctoral training.
  • The ratio of PhD students and postdoctoral fellows on training grants to those supported by research grants.
  • Possibilities for professional/staff scientist positions and the level of training required for such positions (e.g. PhD or MSc degrees).
  • Issues related to the attractiveness of biomedical research careers (e.g. salary, working conditions, availability of research funding)
  • The effect of changes in NIH policies on investigators, grantee institutions and the broader research enterprise.
  • I encourage you in the strongest possible terms to comment and let your opinion be heard. The last time there was a similar “how are we doing” type of RFI from the NIH that I got blogwood over, I seem to recall the number of comments was in the low thousands, 2,000 maybe? Compared to the number of individuals who are affected substantially by NIH extramural research policies this is tiny. This is your chance to have your representative voice punch far above your weight class folks. Avail yourselves of it.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Why is it that approximately every third or fourth manuscript I review has me thinking….Christ, they submitted THAT piece of crap* to THIS journal? I mean hell, it ain’t like I’m conservative with what I submit and to where but FFS, maybe I need to lower my frigging standards even more.

    *when the piece of crap is actually accepted for publication, the thought process is similar but with more floridly physioproffian flourishes.

    Congress Critter Hilarity

    August 16, 2011

    Representative Roscoe Bartlett (R, Maryland) had an Op/Ed bit up in the NYT a few days ago. He’s against the use of chimpanzees in research.
    Fair enough, our elected Representatives are welcome to their opinions. But there were two glaring items that require correction or comment.
    First, he tells tall tales about Nim.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Go give your answer at The Tightrope blog.
    I’d say that for substance-abuse type disciplines, the answer is no. There do seem to be a lot of K99/R00 folks being hired though.

    Toni Scarpa to leave CSR

    August 16, 2011

    Via writedit:
    CSR presser [PDF]

    Immediately my eye was drawn to the claim that Scarpa launched the effort to train early career reviewers. What a crock of misleading fewmets!

    He was the one driving the ship, right over objections from his SROs, to purge Assistant Professors from panels. And when they started this training initiative, he wanted the noobs to just sit there without any assigned reviews to write!

    Commenter Grumble recently grumbled:

    Yes, but what is the quality of the science when scientists have to spend so much of their time writing grants? Essentially what you are saying is that any PI needs to constantly apply for grants, just get an occasional award to keep the lab afloat. I have managed to survive so far by submitting a constant stream of grants, but I have precious little time left for anything else. According to you, I’m not “failing to do my fucken job,” but according to me I am failing to do my fucken job because I don’t actually do science; I do fund-raising.

    I have two responses. First, yes there will be some intervals where you do nearly nothing other than write grants. But these are not literally encompassing your entire job month in, month out. At the start of your career, sure it may take 2-3 months to prepare one grant submission. It is necessary, however, that you quickly get to the point where you can put together something credible with many fewer hours of work. This is made possible through the wonders of cut and paste, partially, but also because grantsmithing is a skill that you refine with practice. The real heavy lifting on the science part, for me, seems to occur over maybe two long and extremely focused stints of keyboard pounding.
    The second response is a reminder that much of the intellectual work that is necessary for grant writing is the very essence of “doing science”. Especially when you consider the role of the Principal Investigator.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    In a Twittersation today we arrived at the possibility that being a heroin user is a unique lyrical stimulus. The specific assertion is that while a lot of so-called ‘crack rap’ discusses *selling* crack cocaine, there are no lyrics about being a crack *user*.

    So let’s broaden the call…can you think of songs that are about using drugs other than heroin? Let’s leave alcohol aside for the moment, there are a bajillion songs about drinking.


    August 11, 2011

    The facebooks and Twitts are all aflundered about Sesame Street’s statement that Bert & Ernie are just friends*, not gay** and can’t have sexual orientation***.

    One of the more hilarious things said by the humorless minority is along the lines of “Stop ruining my childhood memories!!”


    Realizing that your take on the world as a child was narrow, naive and sheltered is some big disturbance to you?

    **uh-huh, sure.


    August 11, 2011

    This is hilarious. Mu-Ming Poo, who out-K3rn3d StKern before he even thought of his vomitous screed, is back in the news. Here are some highlights from Poo’s infamous letter to his laboratory

    Every one works at least 50 hr a week in the lab (e.g., 8+ hr a day, six days a week). This is by far lower than what I am doing every day and throughout most of my career. You may be smarter or do not want to be as successful, but I am not asking you to match my time in the lab…I mean real bench work. This does not include surfing on the computer and sending and receiving e-mails for non-scientific matters unrelated to your work (you can do this after work in the lab or at home), and excessive chatting on nonscientific matters. No long lunch break except special occasions. I suggest that everyone puts in at least 6 hr concentrated bench work and 2+ hr reading and other research-related activity each day. Reading papers and books should be done mostly after work…But if you do not like to follow the rules because it is simply a matter of choice of life style, I respect your choice but suggest you start making plans immediately and leave the lab by the end of January 31. I will do my best to help you to locate a lab to transfer or to find a job.

    Apparently he did not cover the allowable number of potty breaks. Probably an oversight.

    Anyhow, disappointed, no doubt with the less-than-enslaved work ethic of the indentured servants available to him from his perch at UC Berkeley, Poo secured a part time appointment in Shanghai. Alas, his dream was short lived. Those ungrateful rat bastard Chinese scientists had the gall to get uppity!

    Poo is still sceptical about the future of Chinese science. He worries that misconduct is still tolerated and that the country’s work ethic is being eroded, with students demanding comfortable living arrangements, better food and vacations.

    BETTER FOOD????? VACATION??? But children are dying of CANCER!!!! Ooops, I mean “those damn axonal growth cones are not going to direct themselves!!!

    …and he might just be applying this to appointed scientists, not just trainees. I guess that is progress?

    The ION has also lost senior staff to the National Institute of Biological Sciences in Beijing, and other universities. Poo blames the departures on better salaries elsewhere, although a critic — who does not want to be named — points to his ‘overly controlling’ managerial style.

    C’mon, I’m sure he’s not asking them to work any harder than he does himself…

    A visual depiction across the training stages. This is absolute truth.
    Click for the full image.


    Whew, I can feel the keyboards screaming in agony as the OUTRAGED PI’s hammer away at their comments.
    The Rock Talk blog entry is supposed to be about What Can You Do When Two Reviewers Contradict Each Other. Now admittedly, the blog advice is, well, laughable.

    In this situation we encourage you to use your best judgment. Take a look at all of the reviewer’s comments and criterion scores* and the scientific review officer’s summary of the discussion and then make a decision on how best to proceed from there. If the summary statement is unclear, you can always contact your program officer for clarification.

    ahahahahaa, no wonder people are pissed about that non-answer to the question they themselves have posed in the blog entry!

    Read the rest of this entry »

    RIP: Joe Brady

    August 5, 2011

    A towering legendary figure of behavioral pharmacology and the drug abuse sciences has passed on.

    Joseph V. Brady, Ph.D. [Department, PubMed, Neurotree] died Friday July 29, 2011 at the age of 89. He earned his doctorate in 1951 from the University of Chicago, worked at Walter Reed Institute from 1951 to 1970 and spent the balance of his career at Johns Hopkins University.
    His most recent paper listed in PubMed was on the effects of gamma-radiation,

    Hienz RD, Brady JV, Gooden VL, Vazquez ME, Weed MR. Neurobehavioral effects of head-only gamma-radiation exposure in rats.Radiat Res. 2008 Sep;170(3):292-8.

    is a continuation of his longstanding association with NASA and spaceflight. Oh yes, Joe Brady trained the first space chimps.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Heh. I infer that the number of appeals is rising.