Repost: Study Section, Act I

February 11, 2013

I think it has been some time since I last reposted this. This originally appeared Jun 11, 2008.

Time: February, June or October
Setting: The Washington Triangle National Hotel, Washington DC

    Dramatis Personæ:

  • Assistant Professor Yun Gun (ad hoc)
  • Associate Professor Rap I.D. Squirrel (standing member)
  • Professor H. Ed Badger (standing member, second term)
  • Dr. Cat Herder (Scientific Review Officer)
  • The Chorus (assorted members of the Panel)
  • Lurkers (various Program Officers, off in the shadows)

6:00 am
YG: …up and at ’em! shower, press clothes, I gotta get something to eat…..
RS: “…snore…”
HB: “…snooooooooooorrrrreeee….

8:20 am
YG: (Sitting at table, computer booted up, logged into eRA Commons) …where IS everyone? the SRO said 8:30 and there’s only like half of the room full yet..OMG, I feel like such an idiot. This panel triaged my first four submissions…they must all think I’m such a moron. Do they know my 15th percentile A2 got picked up by Program? hey, there’s Professor Grey Fox, she’s like my total science idol. Maybe I can chat her up for lunch?
RS: (checking email in room, throwing down first cup of nasty in-room coffee, hurriedly dressing with one eye on the email, one on CNN) dammit, dammit, dammit. I told that postdoc to email me the results while I was on the plane yesterday…
HB: …snort, huh? hmm, did the SRO say we were starting at 8:30 or 9? crap I guess I can shower and throw on some clothes in 10. good thing Grey Fox broke us up after three bottles of wine last night..[uuuurrrp].. oooh, those mussels, shoulda skipped those.

9:00 am
Cat Herder: “…and so we must maintain the confidentiality of the review process…”
YG: Wow, this is all so serious…
RS: (Checking email from table, throwing down third cup of nasty coffee, checks text messages surreptitiously)…lazy fucking postdoc, where’s my data??…hey! so that’s Dr. Gun….geeez about time she got her damn grant the way those idiots were jerking her around on those last two submissions
HB: (Wandering in during SRO preamble about confidentiality, scoring, blah, blah, blah; nods at buddies)shit, guess it was 8:30 after all…where’s the coffee? oh man, no more cheese Danish?

9:18-10:10 am
YG: (Dutifully attending to each review, taking notes, opens pdf of each discussed application on computer)
RS: (Sending email from table, two more cups of coffee) “‘Wait…what? Why are your post-discussion scores so bad if all three of you like that one?”
HB: (Rattles off two Primary reviews with panache)

10:15 am
YG: …oh geez, my first review is coming up in about three applications….I’m so nervous….
RS: …oh man, how many cups of this weak ass hotel coffee did I drink already….
HB: …damn prostate….
All: I gotta go…!

11:05 am
YG: …here I go… “This grant has a large number of experiments under each of five Aims. To really explain my preliminary score, I’ll detail a few experiments and then discuss the missing controls in experiments 6-8, 14-18 and discuss the logic of the first..”
RS:(Looks up briefly from data set the postdoc finally sent) …Ha! aren’t the n00bs cute?
HB: Fucking n00bs always think they have to impress us old farts…damn this is tedious. They’re almost as bad as that goddamn Horace! Hmm, I wonder when Cat is going to circulate the menu from the restaurant we’re going to tonight?

12:35 am: Breaking for Lunch
YG: …hey, there’s my PO…I’d better say hi… (Hesitantly) “Hello Program Officer Whatsit, we’ve never met but I’m Dr. Yun Gun from …”
RS:(Cornering another PO, gesticulating wildly) “…and so you see, with this recent result we are poised, absolutely poised for a big finding in ….”
HB: (Doesn’t speak to POs unless they at least direct a division or handle his Center!)

3:30 pm
YG: (Eyes starting to fix into a glazed expression, head pounding from constant concentration on the grants and reviewer comments) …this is grueling! how can they sit there so calmly?
RS:(Surfing internet with window modestly reduced and half hidden behind Commons window for concealment) hmm…anything new pop up on my PubMed saved searches…shit, forgot to confirm my flight in two days to that European conference….oh man, DrugMonkey’s getting a bit ridiculous today…
HB: (Surfing internet, full size window) “Ha!, cough, cough..” (looks around) …that PhysioProf is fucking hilarious!

3:45 pm
YG: (Perking up slightly) wow! finally Professor Horace Grizzler is up for a review..He’s such a great scientist!
Horace Grizzler: (Reading his written review, line by line) “Ahem. The Significance of this proposal is represented by the focus on the functions of the Physio-whimple nucleus in the context of….”
RS:(Heading for the coffee urn) Oh shit, it’s Horace….maybe I can fake a cell phone emergency call…yeah that’ll work
HB: (Heading for the restroom )Oh shit, it’s Horace, well damn, everyone knows my prostate is shot..I can probably make this look good.

5:49 pm: Wrapping up for the day
YG: (Wearied) oooo, I’m beat. I hope I have enough energy to go to the dinner with these folks. Everyone says I have to schmooze….maybe I can go grab a quick shower to recover before 7:30…I’m so tired after this first day…
RS: ” Hey, Badger, Fox, Grizzler, drinks in the bar before we go to dinner? Yeah? Meet you in 15, gotta email a postdoc first…”

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