October 30, 2014

4:18 PM | SFN 2014: Put NIH Row on Your Itinerary
As the neuroscientists in the audience prepare for their largest annual scientific gathering, I like to remind my Readers to attend to a chore which will improve their odds of obtaining NIH grant funding. This includes a little bit of homework on your part, so block out an hour or two with your coffee cup. […]

October 29, 2014

8:35 PM | One-and-done NIH Grants: A bug or a feature?
There is an interesting new survival analysis for PIs that have been awarded at least one R01 posted at RockTalk. Briefly, what you are looking at is as follows: We chose three cohorts of first-time R01-equivalent awardees — those who received their first R01-equivalent award in 1989, 1997, or 2003....We used data on these three […]

October 27, 2014

8:04 PM | Your Grant in Review: Follow the Reviewers' Style Guide
The NIH grant application has a tremendous amount of room for stylistic choice. No, I'm not talking about Georgia font again, nor your points-leaving choice to cite your references with numbers instead of author-date. Within the dictated structure of Aims, Significance, Innovation, etc, there is a lot of freedom. Where do I put the Preliminary […]

October 24, 2014

7:42 PM | K99/R00 Eligibility clarification explicitly justifies exceptions for parental/family/etc. leave
This is good to see formalized: It states: Eligible Individuals (Program Director/Principal Investigator) K99 applicants must have no more than 4 years of postdoctoral research experience at the time of the initial or the subsequent resubmission or revision application, and must be in mentored, postdoctoral training positions to be eligible to apply to the […]
6:32 PM | Once again, it is not pre-publication peer review that is your problem
The perennial discussion arose on the Twitts yesterday, probably sparked by renewed ranting from dear old @mbeisen. For the uninitiated, a brief review of the components that go into the pre-publication approval of a scientific manuscript. In general, authors select a journal and submit a manuscript that they feel is ready for publication*. At this […]

October 23, 2014

4:34 PM | Datahound on productivity
This final figure from Datahound's post on K99/R00 recipients who have managed to win R01 funding is fascinating to me. This is a plot of individual investigators, matching their number of published papers against a weighted sum of publication. The weighting is for the number of authors on each paper as follows: "One way to […]

October 22, 2014

3:45 PM | Pet Peeve: "the literature"
One precious tic of academic writing I implore you to avoid is " the literature". "Novel contribution to the literature..." "Unknown in the literature..." "Fill a gap in the literature..." You know what I mean. The impression you create is that this is some silly self-referential game with only internal measures of importance. Whether this […]

October 21, 2014

4:51 PM | Query for Readers: Are Blogrolls Over?
What do you think? Do you ever click on the blogroll anymore? Is this useful to any of you?
4:06 PM | NIH's rapid growth has let in a bunch of riff-raff!
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 […]
3:42 PM | Congress is dissatisfied with NIH's spending priorities!
This passage appeared in a highly prestigious journal of science. "Important elements in both Senate and the House are showing increasing dissatisfaction over Congress's decade-long honeymoon with medical research....critics are dissatisfied...with the NIH's procedures for supervising the use of money by its research grantees....NIH officials..argued, rather, that the most productive method in financing research is […]

October 20, 2014

6:58 PM | Bash Science with Gay AND Fat-shaming? It's like a rightwing three-fer
We recently discussed how the Origami Condom project supported under the Small Business Innovation Research Congressional mandate had quite obvious public health implications in a prior post. This was in response to the gleeful Republican bashing of NIH funding priorities in the wake of NIH Director Francis Collins' rather poorly considered claims* that Ebola research […]

October 16, 2014

6:44 PM | The Origami Condom and NIH Ebola funding
One of the NIH funded research projects that has been bandied about with much glee from the right wing, in the wake of Francis Collins' unfortunate assertion about Ebola research and the flatlined NIH budget, is the "Origami Condom". It shows why NIH Director Collins should have known better. The Origami Condom sounds trivial and […]

October 15, 2014

10:18 PM | Szalavitz on marijuana addiction
If I'm going to bash a journalist when she writes something horrible about drug abuse, I must take pains to congratulate her when she writes something pretty good. Maia Szalavitz' latest "Of course Marijuana addiction exists and it's (almost) all in your head" is actually not bad. So long as you ignore the more excessive […]
12:20 AM | Thought of the day
The comment of Francis Collins (NIH Director) about Ebola research being hampered by the decade long slide in NIH funding brought out a bit of the usual about science and the public interest. With the usual back and forth about how stupid and uninformed Americans just can't grasp how terribly important your genejockery ChiPSlipNDip EleventoptoArckylit […]

October 14, 2014

7:10 PM | The CrowdFund Science Crowd Mistakes "An Experiment" for "Doing Science"
I had a revelation that clarified some of my points of poor understanding of the science crowdfunding enthusiast position. In skirmishing on Twitter with some guy associated with "" I ran across a project on brain inflammatory responses in a fetal alcohol model from the Lindquist lab. Something I can readily assess, being that it […]

October 13, 2014

11:06 PM | Eisen Nails Down Why Collins Was Wrong on Ebola Assertion
Endorse. Go read: But what really bothers me the most about this is that, rather than trying to exploit the current hysteria about Ebola by offering a quid-pro-quo “Give me more money and I’ll deliver and Ebola vaccine”, Collins should be out there pointing out that the reason we’re even in a position to develop […]
6:37 PM | Why bother fighting with a chap who calls most scientists "riff raff"?
Well, for some perspective I offer three older posts that addressed a different issue but tend to apply. Weekend Diversion Once a person has convinced him or herself that s/he is correct, or has a pretty good take on the world, the notion that s/he is a sap, fool, tool of advertising, subject to the […]
5:52 PM | Should we continue long-funded NIH grant programs under younger PIs?
In the course of discussing the infamous graph showing the longitudinal increase in the median age of first-R01 award, and the other infamous slide deck showing the aging of the distribution of all NIH-funded PIs there is something that eventually comes up. @drugmonkeyblog you're approaching 60, and NIH says "automatic 7 yr renewal, but it […]

October 10, 2014

10:09 PM | Rep Harris proposal shows why NIH should actually look at the data
A Rockey post that I originally missed last spring tells us that the median age of first R01 for ESI applicants is 39. This is of comfort to my longstanding inability to match the 42 year old number with my experience- I, of course, mentally ignore a key part of the NI distribution from which […]
8:54 PM | Supporting postdoctoral training activities on research grants
Jeepers. This has to be the longest winded and most indirect way of putting it. My interpretation (I could be wrong) is that yes, you can use R-mech research grant funds to send your postdocs to meetings, give seminars and do other postdoctoral training activities that are not directly related to the goals of the […]

October 09, 2014

8:10 PM | Sometimes.....
via deviant art

October 08, 2014

5:24 PM | McKnight doubles down on "riff raff" on NIH grant review panels
We recently discussed a President's column at ASBMB Today by Steven McKnight in which he claimed that NIH grant review panels are contaminated with "riff-raff" who are incompetent to properly review proposals. A Nature News piece published today notes that McKnight 'was “saddened” by suggestions that he has any gripe with young researchers or with […]
1:01 PM | Query on postdoctoral training
Is a lab that has 12 or more concurrent postdocs really "training" them? Is this in and of itself evidence that this is the scientific workforce? If, say, three-quarters of them ended up in faculty appointments would this change the equation?

October 07, 2014

6:24 PM | Thought of the day: Scientific genius
One does not demonstrate "genius" by being the first over the line to answer a question that a whole bunch of other people know is the question and are likewise pursuing. Particularly when the thing that lets you "win" is access to some particular datum that someone else just doesn't happen to have right now. […]
4:56 PM | A pants leg can only accommodate so many Jack Russells
Some DAOTI asked a silly question @drugmonkeyblog @Dr24hours Don't you think postdocs from "those labs" stand a better chance of obtaining R1 TT offer? — Christopher Weber (@chmweber) October 7, 2014 got the simple answer of "no", demanded data and was summarily mocked. For this he got all fronty. @Dr24hours @surt_lab IME large labs can […]

October 06, 2014

8:10 PM | America does the right thing
At first you might think it a negative that the US Supreme Court refused to hear five gay marriage cases this term. The Supreme Court on Monday turned away appeals from five states looking to prohibit gay marriage, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in those states and likely others -- but also leaving the issue unresolved […]
4:26 PM | Something is funny at Science Magazine
Since many of you are AAAS members, as am I, I think you might be interested in an open letter blogged by Michael Balter, who identifies himself as "a Contributing Correspondent for Science and Adjunct Professor of Journalism at New York University". I have been writing continuously for Science for the past 24 years. I […]

October 03, 2014

10:25 PM | Rep Harris wants to help the "Young, Brilliant and Unfunded". Allegedly.
In an Op-Ed in the NYT, Representative Andy Harris (R, Maryland) lays out three main issues that he would like to address regarding the functions of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Harris [Wikipedia] was a Physician Scientist prior to running for Congress and was the PI of NIH Grant R01 GM036044-04. This grant ran […]

October 02, 2014

5:55 PM | CSR says that applications are up by 10%
Again, according to the Peer Review Notes for September 2014, CSR of the NIH says that applications are up by 10%. “Total numbers of applications going to CSR study sections have surged about 14 percent," said CSR Director Dr. Richard Nakamura. “The NIH Office of Extramural Research reports about a 10 percent increase in research […]

October 01, 2014

11:00 PM | Sometimes CSR just kills me
The Peer Review Notes for September 2014 contains a list of things you should never write when reviewing grants. Some of them are what we might refer to as Stock Critique type of statements. Meaning that they don't just appear occasionally during review. They are seen constantly. A case in point: 7. “This R21 application […]
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