Archive for the 'Uncategorized' category

Thought of the day

Dec 04 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

38 responses so far

SFN2013: Put NIH Row on Your Itinerary

Those of us in the neurosciences are preparing for our largest annual scientific gathering. I like to remind you to attend to a certain little task to assist with the 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.

Part of the process of sustained NIH funding includes the long game of developing interpersonal relationships with the Program Officers that staff the NIH ICs of interest to our individual research areas. Sure, they do turn over a bit and may jump ICs but I've had some POs involved with my proposals for essentially the entire duration of my funded career to date.

Many scientists find the schmoozing process to be uncomfortable and perhaps even distasteful.

To this I can only reply "Well, do you want to get funded or not?".

This post originally went up Nov 12, 2008. I've edited a few things for links and content.


One of the most important things you are going to do during the upcoming SfN Annual Meeting in San Diego is to stroll around NIH row. Right?

I have a few thoughts for the trainees after the jump. I did mention that this is a long game, did I not? Continue Reading »

5 responses so far

Greatness

Nov 03 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

Is the standard for being a person of respect in science that you do something "great"?

If you haven't done anything "great" with your science does this mean you were a waste of space and grant money?

If you answer yes, how many of the people in your sub field have accomplished "great" science?

21 responses so far

Volunteer Postdoc Wanted, 2-3 years of experience required

Oct 15 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

This had better be either a joke or some sort of sociology / economics study on the business of science.

Unpaid Volunteer in a Basic Science Research Laboratory

Currently looking for a part-time (15-30 hours a week) Biological Sciences un-paid volunteer researcher for an Academic Immunology, Inflammation, and Microbiology lab in La Jolla. Particularly interested in individuals who are highly motivated, function independently and efficiently, are already trained in microbiology and immunology, who have an excellent academic record, and who already have a graduate degree (PhD).

Skills Required:
• Isolate DNA, run PCR reactions (singleplex and multiplex), and analyze via agarose gels.
• Microbiologic techniques: bacterial culture, minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) assays, agar microdilution, broth microdilution, colony counting
• Identification of bacterial virulence factors
• Experience works with methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the lab setting.
• Protein extraction and purification, quantification, SDS page gel electrophoresis, staining
• Carefully record all experimental details and results.
• Analysis of data utilizing GraphPad Prism and Microsoft Excel
• Writing manuscripts about data produced, and submission to journals
• Present data at conferences

Qualifications:
• PhD
• 2-3 years of experience in a research lab beyond PhD degree (postdoc or otherwise)
• Able to rapidly learn new techniques and multi-task. Good organizational skills.
• Hard working, highly motivated and reliable.
• Personable, plays well with others.

About the Research:
The research goals of the laboratory are to elucidate the effects of cigarette smoke on bacterial virulence and myeloid cell function. The focus is on in vitro cellular human and mouse assays and bacterial function assays.

Please submit a cover letter (brief statement about yourself and your goals), and attach a current resume or CV.

Location: La Jolla
Compensation: none
This is a non-profit organization>

Because if this is for real......

45 responses so far

Thought of the Day

Oct 13 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

Brunch is not a definitional adult behavior.

Brunch may possibly be a transitional step towards maturity. I suppose when you stop being out so late and/or so drunk on Saturday night that you arise when it is still morning this seems like maturity.

True adulthood involves not really having time for "brunch" when you've been up since six like other adults.

18 responses so far

Amazingly enough, I can't get worked up about Oprah being dissed

Aug 12 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

Are you kidding me people?

I swear to God the world is messing with me.

The BM may have a point about discrimination in a science setting and the way people make unthinking and covert assumptions.

I get that.

But Oprah was apparently refused a close look at a handbag "handbag" on sale for £22,500. Even in Eurocash that's a lot of money. (Apparently she was in Switzerland to attend the wedding of Tina Turner, who is awesome.)

Naturally the world turns to debating whether the clerk in question steered Oprah (who she didn't recognize) away from the spendy blingy bits because of her race or weight.

I'm sure most of you grasp that Oprah could buy the entire business.

Winfrey, 59, who runs her own TV network, earned $77 million in the year to June 2013, taking the No. 1 spot on the Forbes most powerful celebrity list last month, the fifth time she has headed the annual ranking.

It would be good to have a conversation about the assumptions made about people of color and those who are not the standard shape that indicates "rich" (whateverthatmightbe).

On the Twitts you can follow that on #myoprahmoment

For me....I can't get past the fact that Oprah was shopping in a place that even HAD a "handbag" that costs £22,500.

I just can't.

19 responses so far

Regulatory Science at NIH

Jun 21 2013 Published by under Drug Abuse Science, Nicotine, NIH funding, Uncategorized

One of the more fascinating things I attended at the recent meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence was a Workshop on "Novel Tobacco and Nicotine Products and Regulatory Science", chaired by Dorothy Hatsukami and Stacey Sigmon. The focus on tobacco is of interest, of course, but what was really fascinating for my audience was the "Regulatory Science" part.

As background the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act became law on June 22, 2009 (sidebar, um...four years later and..ahhh. sigh.) This Act gave "the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate the manufacture, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products to protect public health."

As the Discussant, David Shurtleff (up until recently Acting Deputy Director at NIDA and now Deputy Director at NCCAM), noted this is the first foray for the NIH into "Regulatory Science". I.e., the usual suspect ICs of the NIH will be overseeing conduct of scientific projects designed directly to inform regulation. I repeat, SCIENCE conducted EXPLICITLY to inform regulation! This is great. [R01 RFA; R21 RFA]

Don't get me wrong, regulatory science has existed in the past. The FDA has whole research installments of its very own to do toxicity testing of various kinds. And we on the investigator-initiated side of the world interact with such folks. I certainly do. But this brings all of us together, brings all of the diverse expert laboratory talents together on a common problem. Getting the best people involved doing the most specific study has to be for the better.

In terms of specifics of tobacco control, there were many on this topic that you would find interesting. The Act doesn't permit the actual banning of all tobacco products and it doesn't permit reducing the nicotine in cigarettes to zero. However, it can address questions of nicotine content, the inclusion of adulterants (say menthol flavor) to tobacco and what comes out of a cigarette (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibiting compounds that increase the nicotine effect, minor constituents, etc). It can do something about a proliferation of nicotine-containing consumer products which range from explicit smoking replacements to alleged dietary supplements.

Replacing cigarette smoking with some sort of nicotine inhaler would be a net plus, right? Well.....unless it lured in more consumers or maintained dependence in those who might otherwise have quit. Nicotine "dietary supplements" that function as agonist therapy are coolio....again, unless they perpetuate and expand cigarette use. Or nicotine exposure...while the drug itself is a boatload less harmful than is the smoking of cigarettes it is not benign.

There are already some grants funded for this purpose.

NIH administers several and there was a suggestion that this is new money coming into the NIH from the FDA. Also a comment that this was non-appropriated money, it was being taken from some tobacco-tax fund. So don't think of this as competing with the rest of us for funding.

I was enthused. One of the younger guns of my fields of interest has received a LARGE mechanism to captain. The rest of the people who seem to be involved are excellent. The science is going to be very solid.

I really, really (REALLY) like this expansion of the notion that we need to back regulatory policy with good data. And that we are willing as a society to pay to get it. Sure, in this case we all know that it is because the forces *opposing* regulation are very powerful and well funded. And so it will take a LOT of data to overcome their objections. Nevertheless, it sets a good tone. We should have good reason for every regulatory act even if the opposition is nonexistent or powerless.

That brings me to cannabis.

I'm really hoping to see some efforts along these lines [hint, hmmmm] to address both the medical marijuana and the recreational marijuana policy moves that are under experimentation by the States. In the past some US States have used state cigarette tax money (or settlement money) to fund research, so this doesn't have to be at the Federal level. Looking at you, Colorado and Washington.

__
As always, see Disclaimer. I'm an interested party in this stuff as I could very easily see myself competing for "regulation science" money on certain relevant topics.

12 responses so far

Stay in touch with your POs for weird mechanisms

May 09 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

If you pursue some of the less popular NIH grant mechanisms, for goodness sake keep in touch with the contact PO. Just heard tell of "Oh, we're not going to be funding any of those in the near future". No, there was no NOT issued to warn those who were preparing applications.

ICs can also decide this after you've already submitted your app and let me tell you that is maddening.

7 responses so far

Now you, too, can have five Cell papers a year!

Apr 30 2013 Published by under Uncategorized

Just keep your postdocs supplied with DeerAntlerSpray.

14 responses so far

Jane Goodall, Plagiarist

From the WaPo article:

Jane Goodall, the primatologist celebrated for her meticulous studies of chimps in the wild, is releasing a book next month on the plant world that contains at least a dozen passages borrowed without attribution, or footnotes, from a variety of Web sites.

Looks pretty bad.

This bit from one Michael Moynihan at The Daily Beast raises the more interesting issues:

No one wants to criticize Jane Goodall—Dame Goodall—the soft-spoken, white-haired doyenne of primatology. She cares deeply about animals and the health of the planet. How could one object to that?

Because it leads her to oppose animal research using misrepresentation and lies? That's one reason why one might object.

You see, everyone is willing to forgive Jane Goodall. When it was revealed last week in The Washington Post that Goodall’s latest book, Seeds of Hope, a fluffy treatise on plant life, contained passages that were “borrowed” from other authors, the reaction was surprisingly muted.

It always starts out that way for a beloved writer. We'll just have to see how things progress. Going by recent events it will take more guns a'smokin' in her prior works to start up a real hue and cry. At the moment, her thin mea culpa will very likely be sufficient.

A Jane Goodall Institute spokesman told The Guardian that the whole episode was being “blown out of proportion” and that Goodall was “heavily involved” in the book bearing her name and does “a vast amount of her own writing.” In a statement, Goodall said that the copying was “unintentional,” despite the large amount of “borrowing” she engaged in.

Moynihan continues on to catalog additional suspicious passages. I think some of them probably need a skeptical eye. For example I am quite willing to believe a source might give the exact same pithy line about a particular issue to a number of interviewers. But this caught my eye:

Describing a study of genetically modified corn, Goodall writes: “A Cornell University study showed adverse effects of transgenic pollen (from Bt corn) on monarch butterflies: their caterpillars reared on milkweed leaves dusted with Bt corn pollen ate less, grew more slowly, and suffered higher mortality.”

A report from Navdaya.org puts it this way: “A 1999 Nature study showed adverse effects of transgenic pollen (from Bt corn) on monarch butterflies: butterflies reared on milkweed leaves dusted with bt corn pollen ate less, grew more slowly, and suffered higher mortality.” (Nor does Goodall mention a large number of follow-up studies, which the Pew Charitable Trust describes as showing the risk of GM corn to butterflies as “fairly small, primarily because the larvae are exposed only to low levels of the corn’s pollen in the real-world conditions of the field.”

And here is the real problem. When someone who has a public reputation built on what people think of as science weighs in on other matters of science, they enjoy a lot of trust. Goodall certainly has this. So when such a person misuses this by misrepresenting the science to further their own agenda...it's a larger hurdle for the forces of science and rational analysis to overcome. Moynihan is all over this part as well:

One of the more troubling aspects of Seeds of Hope is Goodall’s embrace of dubious science on genetically modified organisms (GMO). On the website of the Jane Goodall Foundation, readers are told—correctly—that “there is scientific consensus” that climate change is being driven by human activity. But Goodall has little time for scientific consensus on the issue of GMO crops, dedicating the book to those who “dare speak out” against scientific consensus. Indeed, her chapter on the subject is riddled with unsupportable claims backed by dubious studies.

So in some senses the plagiarism is just emblematic of un-serious thinking on the part of Jane Goodall. The lack of attribution is going to be sloughed off with an apology and a re-edit of the book, undoubtedly. We should not let the poor scientific thinking go unchallenged though, just to raise a mob against plagiarism. The abuse of scientific consensus is a far worse transgression.

33 responses so far

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