Some peers are more equal than others

December 5, 2012

I’m attending a meeting that is enriched in the older and established luminary type of scientist. Relative to more….democratic academic meetings.

I’ve seen the head of the CSR of the NIH here two years in a row. Now, I don’t know how many meetings this person attends in a year, perhaps it is dozens. I bet not though.

Which means this crowd gets an extra special opportunity to ‘splain what is wrong with grant review and how to fix it.

I guarantee it is mostly about what is good for them with their huge labs and well established programs, and much less about what is good for the riff-raff like us, Dear Reader.

No Responses Yet to “Some peers are more equal than others”

  1. Grumble Says:

    Or you could say that neuropsychopharmacologists get that extra special opportunity to ‘splain to Dr. Nakamura how to run his outfit, to the deteriment of the rest of us non-neuropsychopharmacologists. Not that Dr. Nakamura gives a damn. I’m sure he’s heard all the suggestions before, and is perfectly happy to go right on not fixing what ain’t broke.


  2. Virgil Says:

    Any scientific society worth its salt will be actively lobbying to get these types of NIH peeps at their meetings. It used to be the big meetings (Neuro, AHA, FASEB, ASCB) had the NIH peeps out in droves, but more recently I’ve seen quite a few of them pop up at mid-size meetings (between 200 and 1000 attendees). Never seen a single program officer or SRO at a “small” meeting (Gordons, Keystones et al., ~100 attendees), but I do frequently see intramural NIH scientists there, and they can sometimes be quite “plugged in” and useful to talk to.

    In the case of CSR people, it’s all about trying to get “appropriate expertise onto study sections”. On the surface this seems like a reasonable idea, and for smaller scientfic societies and interest groups it can be very good because often the CSR is unaware that such a body of expertise exists. However the cynic in me thinks this is really all about “please come to our meeting so we can fil your study section with people who will be nice to our grants”. Yes, when paylines drop into single digits, you can bet everyone’s sci-soc is going to be doing a lot more of this type of lobbying on behalf of their members.

    Off topic – I’d enjoy your opinion/thoughts/a post on the recent Nature editorial (lost the link now), who’s central message was “fuck it, let’s drop off the fiscal cliff, why are FASEB and scientists whining so much?”


  3. Dave Says:

    ^You mean the “unhealthy obsession” article. I’m sure a post is coming ;).


  4. DrugMonkey Says:

    Not so sure I have anything new to say on the topic. I agree we need advocacy. But it helps to hash over just what we’re advocating for and why. Naturally, I think the discussions here are valuable. It’s those clueless whiners over at RockTalk that could stand a bit of jeering.


  5. Young but no so Young Investigator Says:

    I bet that most of those clueless whiners at RockTalk are the same crew attending your meeting DM. They are the ones who have controlled peer review to their benefit for many years, screwing a lot of talented investigators and forcing them out. Now that the financial situation is bad they are blaming the changes operated to mildly correct the system ( changes which by the way had been initiated and carried out with solid scientific community participation).

    Fuck’em, fuck their self-centered longstanding lobbying to only fix themselves in comfort and abundance while depriving the majority of fair opportunities.

    Fuck’em, fuck’em all. Nakamura should be very attentive to their tactics!.


  6. Virgil Says:

    I’ve been waiting for someone to post the following, but what the hell, I’ll go for it…

    Some peer’s mothers are more equal than other peer’s mothers


  7. bsci Says:

    At the last SFN, I’m pretty sure I saw Dr. Nakamura sitting at the small CSR table with not many people approaching him. Maybe people just didn’t expect to see him there?


  8. Amy Says:

    We had the deputy director of a relevant institute at a very specialized, small, and I’d say fairly low on the power and influence chart GRC in my field last summer, and have had POs at similar meetings in the past. Clearly, some GRC organizers are plugged in and lobbying successfully.


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