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Nov 13 2009

A SMART Plan? No, A Wackaloon Dumbfuck Plan!

My jaw dropped when I read this absurd piece of garbage printed this week in Science. It’s yet another whiny-ass titty-baby diatribe concerning NIH’s attempts to level the playing field for New/Early-Stage Investigators by paying some of their grants outside the nominal payline. I’m not gonna quote the whole thing, but here is a fisking of some of the most egregious nonsense.

Increasing the grants funded below the quality cutoff to nearly one-fifth of all funded grants will not serve the goal of helping new investigators. If such applicants are not held to the stringent process of producing a grant that meets R01 quality requirements, what will happen to them when they are no longer new investigators and are then subject to the same rigors as the rest of the field?

How many motherfucking times do idiots like this fuckwit have to have it explained to them that the NIH peer review system is by necessity incapable–as is any peer review system–of distinguishing the “quality” of the top 10% and the second 10% of grants (between which is where current nomial paylines reside). This is because there simply exist no objective differences in anything that one could identify as “quality” among the top 20% of grants.

This practice is reminiscent of the R23 and its replacement, the R29 First Independent Research Support and Transition (FIRST) award (2). However, these two early-investigator programs were discontinued by NIH because of unacceptable differences between these awards and R01s, including evidence that awardees of the R29 were less likely to secure subsequent R01 funding than were early-career investigators starting with an R01. The R29 mechanism was also under-resourced.

Way to just casually slip in the fact that the R29 mech was under-resourced, as if that was just a minor contributor to the difficulties its awardees faced subsequently, and not the main fucking reason. Yeah, those R29 awardees did poorly later on because they were scientific losers in the first place who never should have got grants in the first place.

Senior faculty often contract junior faculty to conduct at least part of their research. Instead of providing special funding directly to new faculty, we should make sure that they receive sufficient mentoring as they work on the projects of more experienced investigators. I propose a new type of grant: the Senior Mentor-initiated Academic Research Training (SMART) award. To obtain this funding, senior faculty must apply to recruit junior faculty or new investigators and groom them for future independent work. If the university or the equivalent research institute provides a fostering environment and scientific resources, NIH should match the SMART funding.

BRILLIANT!!!!!!!! Let’s create yet another way for senior faculty to build empires on the backs of junior faculty, and further delay their genuine independence. Forty-two motherfucking years old as the average age of award of the first R01 is way too young! These whippersnappers need more “mentoring” from senior faculty! And what better way to get it than to work on the senior faculty’s own projects!!!!

Excuse me while I fucking puke.

16 comments

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  1. 1
    DrugMonkey

    Anybody who can remember the R23 came before the R29/FIRST is almost by definition a geezer…

  2. 2
    biochem belle

    I agree with you completely (possibly for the first time, and I must admit this disturbs me. Anyway…).

    As I was reading the wackaloon plan this morning, my spouse (who is not a scientist) was asked what I was shaking my head about. Aside from the flawed logic as to why it’s bad to give new investigators a leg up, the actual plan makes no sense.

    Instead of providing special funding directly to new faculty, we should make sure that they receive sufficient mentoring as they work on the projects of more experienced investigators.

     After I read this line, spouse responded, “Wait. I thought that’s what you did as a postdoc.”

    Funny. So did I.

  3. 3
  4. 4
    Professor in Training

    Instead of providing special funding directly to new faculty, we should make sure that they receive sufficient mentoring as they work on the projects of more experienced investigators.

    This innovative training and mentoring scheme already exists … it’s called a postdoc.

    I propose a new type of grant: the Senior Mentor-initiated Academic Research Training (SMART) award.

    I think cagefighting is a much better option to determine who gets funded. We could call it the Academic Cagefighting Experience (ACE) initiative.

  5. 5
    Genomic Repairman

    My old PI was ecstatic that he got his first one at the youthful age of 41! He was bare ass on the copier with a party hat on for beating the average.

  6. 6
    CFS

    Does anyone have thoughts regarding the new K99′s?

  7. 7
    drugmonkey

    They’ve changed the K99? how so?

  8. 8
    Dr. Zeek

    Just a random thought, but isn’t the NIH-NRSA fellowship along the same lines as to what the dumbfuck SMART plan is supposed to be? What a fucktard….

  9. 9
    The Barefoot Bum

    Forty-two motherfucking years old as the average age of award of the first R01 is way too young!

    What’s the median?

  10. 10
    pinus

    42?

    Holy shit that is depressing.

  11. 11
    queenrandom

    As someone in their last year of PhD training before entering a postdoc, let me say, teaching at small colleges is getting more and more appealing….

  12. 12
    Dr Becca

    Oh for crying out loud. Wake me when the Training ends, mmkay?

  13. 13
    T.H. Huxley

    Hi,

    Just a question – we just got our priority score on an NIAID R01 competing renewal application: 32 (using the new 10-90 priority score system). Does anyone have any idea, based on the previous submission cycle and any other info they’ve heard about, what kind of percentile that score might convert to?

    Thanks!
    T.H.

  14. 14
    Spiny Norman

    Fucking demented old motherfucker. Debomoy K. Lahiri should hurry up and fucking retire. THAT would improve the quality of science in the United States.

  15. 15
    Katharine

    I wonder if Debomoy forgot the fact that he is not immortal .

  16. 16
    CFS

    Sorry drugmonkey,

    Wrong place to post the question about K99′s. Actually I didn’t mean to indicate a change at all, just general inquiry. A post for another time.

  1. 17
    A counter to all the whinging about New Investigator affirmative action at the NIH [DrugMonkey] | Medical News

    [...] opinion bit written by a senior investigator who actually seems to have a brain in his head and is not blinded by selfishness. The argument that grants should be funded only on the basis of priority [...]

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