The deletion test?

Dec 05 2011 Published by under Lab, LinkLove

A recent article in Nature talking about the HHMI's Janelia Farm Research Campus was quite interesting but has me a little aghast at a comment made by executive director Gerald Rubin.  Rubin says that Janelia Farm needs to be able to pass the "deletion test" in order to be considered a success.  The deletion test is analogous to knocking out a gene in order to determine its functions, so without the contributions of the might Janelia Farm what may we mere scientific plebes never have discovered.  I have not heard such hubris since the cocaine-laden days of the 1980s or more recently strategic planning by institutional presidents (we'll cure cancer in 10 years).  My skepticism in not to say that Janelia isn't a fantastic environment to foster scientific excellence or that they won't achieve great discoveries in the future, but my god man, temper your words.  Don't flap your gums and say crap like that you would consider yourself a failure if 20 years from now you find that you have just "..recreated the Salk Institute."

Oh and the nature article plots out the # number of glamour mag publications over the years coming out of Janelia Farm (I wouldn't expect anything less from the folks at Nature, or Science, or Cell).  So I guess if you are working at the farm its either go big or go home as well too?  I have high hopes for this place but don't start pissing matches by running your mouth.

4 responses so far

  • Sean Eddy says:

    The deletion test isn't intended the way you've taken it. Just means that Janelia aims to do science (and to have a style of doing science) that's not redundant with the existing HHMI investigators or with NIH/NSF funded research. If we built the Farm just to do more of the same excellent stuff that existing programs and institutions are already doing well -- Gerry's example of the Salk included -- then HHMI could've (and should've) just funded more HHMI investigators.

    btw, I don't think Nature's silly and inaccurate plot of Janelia publications was supposed to be specifically Nature/Cell/Science papers; I think the caption means to say it includes them. Ironic that you're steamed about this bit, because it's a main part of the culture here that we intend to evaluate actual scientific impact, not just where our papers get published, or how many of them we publish.

    • Sean thanks for the clarifications, I'm really impressed with the JF setup and think it will foster exceptional science. I get Rubin's point but I think it maybe should have been worded a bit differently.

    • epj says:

      It looks like a very very nice and more practical way to do science, but likely accessible only to a few.

  • chall says:

    (off topic but I thought you might find this article interesting? It's about the use of violence more regularily and police=military etc... anyway, I liked some of the examples)

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