I'm sure by now many of you have seen the...interesting...article written by Dr. Kern in Cancer Biology and Therapy, berating cancer researchers for...*gasp*...working less than 80 hours a week when we haven't cured can cancer yet. Sci considered a truly vitriolic series of responses to this article*, but other people have been there before me, and have done a great job dissecting the article and why it is both not awesome and also very wrong.
As for me, I do hope that with time, an increased sense of perspective, and possibly some chocolate-related therapy, Dr. Kern will reconsider his extremely curmudgeonly remarks. I'm sorry that he felt the need to justify his own life choices by degrading those of his colleagues, and in the process, to add additional stress and worry to the next generation of scientists.
Grad students, post-docs, listen up. Not all PIs are like this. Some of them (perhaps even the majority), know that good science means living a life outside of the lab. They know you are dedicated to your work (in a professional or emotional capacity, or both), and that you need no encouragement to get the stuff done (most of the time). Most scientists I know drive themselves far harder than a boss could. And we are doing everything we can. But if Dr. Kern is going to insist on a 24/7 science army to cure cancer, he might need to reconsider. Or his army is going to be a lot smaller than he planned on. And I think we need every hand we can get, working when they can, and how they can, to cure cancer.
*Now would be the time to note that I made the "choice" not to become a cancer researcher, kind of like how he feels some other people made the "choice" to become unimportant things like firefighters instead. I'm not a cancer researcher, and that obviously means I've made a horrible choice in life, and have no passion. All those people with psychiatric diseases, after all, it's not like SUFFER or anything. It's not like they have a disturbingly high rate of SUICIDE or anything. It's not like they have to spend every suffering moment convincing people they actually HAVE a disease as opposed to a "life choice" or "willpower" problem. So, yeah, clearly, they aren't anywhere near as important as cancer. And this makes me a bad person for trying to find cures for them, when I COULD be curing something more "worthwhile". Like cancer. Yup, I have no passion for science, can you tell?