No one has the right answer! Everyone's proposals to fix the NIH funding situation boils down to give money to folks like "me" and fuck everyone else. So I have to agree with Odyssey's premise, maybe the current system is as good as we get. Maybe, the current system just cannot function properly when it is heavily taxed by an expanded investigator pool and a not enough resources to support them.
A shift to a HHMI style process is quite ludicrous as HHMI could never exist in a vacuum without the NIH and as Drugmonkey posits, the scalability of this is laughable at best. And once again you create a very insular version of science that looks more like a circlejerk amongst friends that limits the playing field even farther.
Is the answer that there is no answer and that we but here to play the game, trying to adapt and survive each day, while trying to make incremental beneficial changes to the system? Fuck it I don't know, but I know its not Germain's plan. To me there is a macabre but reassuring thought that all of us, the good, the bad, the riff raff, and (to some extent) the BSDs are all being crushed under the same terrible wheel. It could be that is the justice of the system, when the times are tough, to some extent we all bleed together.
Andy Deans (@GenomeStability), a researcher at St. Vincent's University that studies the DNA repair genes related to Fanconi anemia and just a really nice guy, posted this week on twitter about a crazy MTA that he received from someone when trying to obtain a plasmid from them. This MTA is so nuts I just had to post it.
I can kind of see co-authorship if its a relatively new reagent or something hotly in demand. But having editorial control of the manuscript when you just provided a reagent is bullshit. It would be like asking my neighbor to borrow his tire iron to change my tires and he can then tell me which kinds of tire I have to buy. Its a bit delusional really, but I hope Andy got it all resolved.
I swear to spaghetti monster that we almost shit bricks and started sounded cold war era air raid sirens when a scary proposition was brought up. Is it the declining NIH budget, are we moving, are there layoffs. No dear reader, no.
Our PI wants to jump back into the lab and work on a side project. While I'm sure it's a romantic notion that harkens back to his days as a graduate student, it terrifies the shit out of us. Let me start off by saying, he is a great boss that is brilliant and very supporting of his trainees. But as a bench scientist, he is utterly unfamiliar with our lab and where stuff is at, is not accustomed to how long or how much work it takes to get stuff done. But worst of all, you move like a glacier compared to us.
We move at a pace that would make meth heads think they saw the Flash, thus we don't need you in our way staring at the freezer trying to figure out where something is at when we need to grab that enzyme now! I think the honeymoon for him after proclaiming that he would make all his own buffers from scratch, he is now pinching from our stocks. So I'm assuming this will not last long.
Its fun to watch though.
Normally I leave my PI out of the mundane bullshit issues that arise in our lab and need to be handled by our support staff who do anything but support us. But lets face it the support staff, our IT department, in this case could give a damn about an issue brought to them by a lowly graduate student. I mean they aren't even employees! Why should they waste time on pissants like me?
Luckily after years of indoctrination into the system I know one thing when problems arise. Don't bitch about them to coworkers, you bitch and complain your way up the ladder until you get some results. And that's what I did, I went to the lab manager, departmental staff, etc. And I got a lame answer blowing me off for an undetermined period of time. And another thing, is when getting no response, go to the offending party in person and remind them you exist. And keep going to them, if you annoy them enough, they may actually help you out. In this case they didn't and that's when I time to call in el jefe.
My boss is a calm gentle man but when you are affecting his lab, he turns into Terry Tate--Office Linebacker. When I stick him on you, he is going to be on you like a rabid dog. You could have just helped me out but you didn't and so I had to call in the big guy. The boss definitely implores us not to waste his time but when you have navigated the proper channels he will do everything in his power as fast as possible to get results. I love working for my boss.