Francis Collins is listening

May 7, 2013

He wants to hear about the impact of the sequester on your NIH funded research. Follow the #NIHSequesterImpact tag on the Twitters.

10 Responses to “Francis Collins is listening”

  1. Dave Says:

    Ha! His latest tweet:

    Great responses so far. Tell me more about research at a critical juncture; ability to treat patients

    In other words: stop bitching about career issues and give me something I can take to congress. Unbelievable.


  2. DJMH Says:

    Dave, that is his JOB. To interface between us and Congress. So I think it’s totally appropriate. There’s no real reason Congress would gets its undies in a bunch about how few tenure track jobs are out there….especially if unemployment for PhDs really is at the 2% level, as claimed.


  3. mikka Says:

    Well, career issues would be important for congress if they cared about maintaining the lead in scientific output. Which they don’t (cf. Lamar Smith chairing the Committe on Science, Space and Technology).


  4. zb Says:

    Why should they care about maintaining the lead in research? We get to use research done in Europe, too. Yes, if the research results in patents, or weapons, it matters where it’s done, but not for lots of regular research.


  5. Dave Says:

    Dave, that is his JOB. To interface between us and Congress

    Riiiiiight. And he has done a great job at that so far hasn’t he? He should be highlighting how many jobs have and will be lost because of the sequester. Of course the impact to human health is very important, but jobs are on the line here too.


  6. A Says:


    maybe a good argument is that of jobs and markets and a tangible application of science that seems overlooked though they make an everyday part of science research:

    * lab supplies/instruments and the related jobs
    * research job numbers, for medium skill level

    I wonder what those numbers are and what will the real economy and science application will look like without them. But it all depends on what the leadership people think a society should be.


  7. mikka Says:

    zb, are you being serious? or are you trying to trace some obtuse line of republican thinking?


  8. zb Says:

    yes, I’m being serious. I think doing basic explanatory science in the us is nice for the people doing it, but that the public benefits wherever it is done.

    I also think that the argument that jobs will be lost is not a very effective one– it applies equally to all federal employees and contractors paid by federal dollars, not disproportionately to scientists.

    Folks who depend on the federal dollars need to make arguments of how everyone benefits, not just the people with the jobs. I don’t think very good arguments are being made, though I do support the research funding.

    Too much of the commentary seems all about people ho are loosing their dreams not why someone else should give up their wages to pay the scientists. Again, I think they should, but the benefits scientists provide are the necessary arguments.


  9. mikka Says:

    I understand what you are saying, but I couldn’t disagree more. In the long run, the fruits of research benefit everyone in the world. But the benefit to a society of doing the research first is undeniable. You can’t possibly think that the USA would be in the same place it is today, in terms of GDP, if it had let the europeans and japanese do all the research in the last 60 years. Scientific lead today = economic lead in the future. And that’s everyone’s jobs.

    The argument for scientific leadership is not one of jobs for the scientists. It’s about keeping a sustainable training pipeline to keep the scientific lead in the future. Of course, what is sustainable is what people have been debating here for quite a while now.


  10. mikka Says:

    But this is all beside the point. It assumes that Collins can convince Congress of something by addressing them directly, which is a laughable notion.

    Collins is looking for a soundbite, something short and impactful that will register in the news cycle. Something like “Cancer patients dying because of sequestration”, followed by some catchy hashtag, because networks love hashtags. In that respect, the twitts is an ideal medium.

    He saw how the FAA did it. Furlough ATCs-> instaclusterfuck, followed by “OMG 2 hour delayz WTFBBQ #FAAsucks #sequester”. That’s how politics is done now. They could be murdering babies wholesale, but if the public consciousness, guided by the news cycle, doesn’t care Congress won’t lift a finger.


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