Many years ago when I was a much younger scientist, reading through the literature was occasionally frustrating. I’d come across a lab working on some question of interest and wonder why they just…..stopped, almost before they got going. Often the authors in question never returned to the published literature and I would wonder what happened.

Later on, in a few cases I would run into them again…..maybe they went to Administration in their University, maybe became a NIH Program Officer, perhaps ended up in BigPharma or publishing. In other cases there was never much trace to explain what happened.

I think we can assume it was frequently grant money-related.

We’re facing another round of the phenomenon, I sense. The current economic climate for biomedical research scientists is very grim. You know this. News of 5%ile paylines posted by at least one NIH Institute is gripping. In the bad way.

The rumble of labs closed due to loss of grant support is swelling. No longer a FOAF, either, but someone you know. The degrees of separation will shrink. People will be lost from science.

This means that future bright eyed graduate students or postdocs will read and wonder.

“What happened to that lab”, they will ponder, “the papers were leading somewhere cool but they just stopped”.