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Government Medicine Stats The Almighty Buck Science

Up To 1000 NIH Investigators Dropped Out Last Year 111

Posted by timothy
from the this-epidemic-must-be-studied-somehow dept.
sciencehabit writes "New data show that after remaining more or less steady for a decade, the number of investigators with National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding dropped sharply last year by at least 500 researchers and as many as 1000. Although not a big surprise—it came the same year that NIH's budget took a 5% cut—the decline suggests that a long-anticipated contraction in the number of labs supported by NIH may have finally begun."
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Up To 1000 NIH Investigators Dropped Out Last Year

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 09, 2014 @07:53PM (#46442091)

    > theÃNational Institutes of Health is an arm of big pharma, get a clue kids

    You're flying kidding me right? Do you know what NIH is? What kind of dealing they have with big pharmas? They have strict rules [nih.gov] on big pharmas involvement. If you don't have proof, don't spout nonsense, you asshole!

  • Re:Good (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 09, 2014 @08:22PM (#46442199)

    I want fewer incompetent researchers churning out bullshit papers, and more practicing doctors instead.

    There's lots of research that needs doing that doesn't require extraordinary talent - just lots and lots of work (and funding to pay for that work). For example, depending on how,you count, there are somewhere on the order of 20,000 human proteins but many of these proteins have not been studied in detail - or even manually curated/annotated.

    But while we could argue about whether there are enough science jobs, I would agree that there are far more science PhDs than available jobs - while there are obviously too few medical doctors to provide an adequate level of health care. On the PhD side, an obvious solution it to switch over to relying on career scientists for routine lab work as opposed to graduate students. That way, you don't have a situation where the typical principle investigator churns out 5-10 PhDs over the course of the PI's career - leading to an imbalance of roughly 5-10 science PhD for every available principle investigator position. And on the MD side, an obvious solution is to simple increase the quota of medical school admissions.

    What's interesting, though, is that the cost of (full) genome sequencing has now fallen to a bit above $1,000 (with certain minimum order requirements). Analyzing a genome is a lot of work and, while the development of some good software (analysis pipelines) will undoubtedly help, genome analysis is almost certainly going to require more time than the typical MD has available. But this is a task that's well suited to PhDs (e.g. in bioinformatics and related fields) - and there's lots of such PhDs bouncing around from one low paying job to another while hoping to eventually land that elusive principle investigator position.

    At the moment, the MDs are trying hard to keep the PhDs out of medicine - on the grounds that a PhD who has, for example, spent years teaching community college would be unable to explain clinical genetics to the typical patient - but that the MD, who has at most five minutes per patient, can somehow convey a full understanding of clinical genetics in that mere five minutes. As more and more people have their genome's sequenced, it remains to be seen whether the MDs can be successful in maintaining their monopoly hold on medical care.

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