June 28th, 2009

Risk aversion at NIH

“Grant System Leads Cancer Researchers to Play It Safe” in today’s NY Times highlights NIH’s crazy risk averse grant making process. …the fight against cancer is going slower than most had hoped, with only small changes in the death rate in the almost 40 years since it began. One major impediment, scientists agree, is the … read more


March 18th, 2009

Science Stimulus

Sam Wang (an old friend of Peter’s) and Sandra Aamodt have an interesting proposal in today’s NY Times for spending a chunk of the NIH’s $8B stimulus funds: hire a bunch of recent college graduates as lab techs in a program modeled after Teach for America. The goal is to provide the needed supply of … read more


February 3rd, 2009

US Science in Relative Decline?

Thompson Reuters has a new report out showing US market share of scientific papers in continuing decline relative to Asia. That’s not too surprising given that China and India are both rapidly modernizing their economies. One thing from the report that struck me, though, was this: But one trend bears watching: in the last two … read more


December 7th, 2007

Fixing the NIH grant-making process

There’s a piece in this week’s Chronicle about some possible changes in the NIH’s grant-making process. About 6 months ago, the NIH solicited suggestions from the general public for ways to improve the process, and an advisory committee has been sifting through the thousands of ideas they received. The article describes a few broad classes … read more


September 24th, 2007

Universities and the money fix

Nature has been running some good stories this past month on the mess at the NIH. Universities and the money fix, by Brian C. Martinson, points out what I think is the central problem: L read moreargely because of the structure of the funding flows between the NIH and the universities, there are few checks in the … read more


August 22nd, 2007

Employment Trends in Biomedical Sciences

Ginny C just pointed me to a recent FASEB presentation that summarizes recent trends in the life sciences labor market. It’s great that they have done this, since I suspect a lot of people don’t know the big picture, and FASEB has a very broad reach. Give it a read. There is a great deal … read more


August 9th, 2007

Survival of the “Fittest”?

There’s an intriguing article in yesterday’s Times about a new theory about the factors that gave rise to the Industrial Revolution in England. For centuries, England’s citizens lived on the brink of starvation. Although innovations would periodically increase agricultural productivity, greater access to food invariably led to population increases, which in turn brought per capita … read more


July 20th, 2007

What have they been up to with all that money?

While the NIH budget doubling has created a crisis for life sciences grant applicants, what about its benefits? One of the most pronounced effects of the budget doubling was a huge building spree by medical schools. Presumably there has also been an increase in research output, right? A new NSF report makes me wonder. According … read more


July 6th, 2007

Risky Business

The Chronicle reports that the National Science Board (the overseers of the NSF) are urging the NSF to fund riskier projects with the potential for big breakthroughs rather than safer, more incremental projects. (Here’s the NSB report) Taking more risks is likely to be a good thing for NSF. Consider the financial analog: it’s like … read more


June 21st, 2007

The Yankees and Research Funding

As I read Geoff’s posts about the University of Kansas Medical Center, and the seeming mismatch between what they are clearly expecting with regard to NIH funding and what the national NIH funding picture looks like I made me wonder: how could an institution pull off a major increase in NIH funding? The answer is … read more