NIH’s rapid growth has let in a bunch of riff-raff!

October 21, 2014

I am sure Dr. McKnight realizes that when he asserts that “Biomedical research in the 1960s and 1970s was a spartan game” and “Biomedical research is a huge enterprise now; it attracts riff-raff who never would have survived as scientists in the 1960s and 1970s” he is in fact lauding the very scientists “When I joined the molecular cytology study section in the 1980s.. all kinds of superb scientists” who were the riff-raff the prior generation complained about.

From a very prestigious general Science journal in 1962:

Some of [this change] arises from expressions of concern within the scientific community itself over whether the NIH’s rapid growth has sacrificed quality to achieve quantity.

The astute reader will also pick up on another familiar theme we are currently discussing.

And some of it reflects nothing more than the know-nothing ramblings of scientific illiterates, who conclude that if the title of a research project is not readily comprehensible to them, some effort to swindle the government must be involved.

1962, people. 1962.
Greenberg DS. NIH Grants: Policies Revised, but Critics Not Likely To Turn Away. Science. 1962 Dec 28;138(3548):1379-80.

4 Responses to “NIH’s rapid growth has let in a bunch of riff-raff!”

  1. Davd Malakoff Says:

    I’m pretty sure “Greenberg DS” is Daniel Greenberg (, one of the pioneers of reporting on science policy. He was the first news editor at Science, and helped set the standard for any of us who came later. After he left Science, he started a newsletter, “Science & Government Report,” that was a must-read for anyone interested in the politics of science. It included regular contributions from one “Grant Swinger,” who often had some pretty amusing and spicy things to say — oh how I miss him! Dan also wrote up Congressional hearing better than anyone. Perhaps my favorite all-time line was from a 1980s hearing on NIH involving Senator Paula Hawkins from Florida, one of the body’s lesser lights. Dan reported: “Senator Hawkins read reasonably well from a list of questions prepared by her staff.” Ouch.


  2. La Griffe du Lion Says:

    First, DM#1, well-said, on top of needs-to-be-said.

    Second, DM#2, that closing quote is transcendent, one of those finds that makes one supremely happy to have sacrificed some life-time to follow a link to a blog, click on an article, and choose to read the “1 response so far.”


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