I am a postdoctoral fellow at Rockefeller University. I received my Ph.D. in "Quantitative and Computational Biology" from Princeton University. For the most part, my research is focused on cancer genomics.
Genomics euphoria: ramblings of a scientist on genetics, genomics and the meaning of life
Probably everyone knows that science funding is not doing ok in the US (or anywhere else for that matter). The grant application success rates have dipped below 15% or even 10% for larger grants. Scientists have been reduced to grant writers: a long and seemingly futile endeavor that is taking more and more away from research time. Basically, people are spending more and more time explaining what they want to do, and less and less time actually doing it. This is not the only problem… with low success rates, the funding process becomes conservative, less imaginative and the word “feasible” transforms into an utterly subjective concept in the mind of the reviewer. Basically, as a young scientist, you need a proposal that is both conventional and innovative at the same time… which seems like a paradox. To be honest, scientists themselves are part of the problem… like any other fraction, every scientist comes with biases, convictions and unfounded belief-systems that clouds his/her judgment. And as the number of grants per researcher shrinks, these biases become an important factor in rankings and scoring applications. The funding problem needs to be dealt with, and I think it will be dealt with in one form or another in the next 4-5 years (things simply cannot go on like this). But those who have power to change anything have not felt the problem yet and like any other profession, the young and less-established investigators suffer the most. Now Ethan Perlstein and his colleagues have come up with a short term solution to fund their innovative ideas. They have started a project in Rockethub to crowd fund their project. I think this is a step forward in the right direction. At this point, they are half way there (their goal is 25,000 dollars)… if you are reading this, head to their project, read their statement and consider fueling this study.