Funding: Alex's NY message

U27111 at uicvm.uic.edu U27111 at uicvm.uic.edu
Sun Dec 31 00:45:50 EST 1995



Sorry guys... I've been out of the loop a while and am just jumping
back in.

>2) that despite that no system can make all people
>equally happy, and some tensions in funding distribution
>are inevitable, it is pointless and harmful to call the
>whole process "Funding Selectivity", as it implies that
>SIGNIFICANT fraction of us must be de-selected. An example
>of this fallacy is Canadian NSERC's term "GSC" (Grant
> SELECTION Committee). We all understand that funding is
>not automatic and isolated cases of non-funding are bound
>to occure, but we should drop the notion of "selectivity'
>as guiding PRINCIPLE.

I'm having a hard time trying to figure out your language here
(sorry... but I'm best when at the 'See Dick run' reading level :-)

Anyway, if I understand this correctly... then I do think funding
needs to be 'selective'.  It's time to stop the 'who you know'
mentality and concentrate on 'what you know' in order to receive
monies.

Under the current system of competition... those who are the best
at presenting data [beefing it up and what-have-you], they are the
ones who are floating to the top of the dwindling monies pool -
pushing the better researchers with better ran labs (and more
accurate papers) right out of the waters.

I've seen too many good researchers leave the field while really
bad ones just get more and more monies... and continue to put out
more and more garbage.

And I'm sorry... but it's not about finding a system which makes
'all people equally happy' - it's about creating a system which can
find quick and efficient treatments/cures for cancer, aids, etc.
...treatments which *really work* in lessening people's pain and
suffering this world!

That's the goal which most people seem to forget in all of this!

And if means closing down poorly ran labs and increasing the
unemployment rate in our field - so be it.  Then at least we would
have more money to go around to those who are indeed the best at
what they do (without having to continue to raise the budget every
year!).

>3) That the juxtopposition of the 'funding system'
>and 'us' (grantees) is largely rethorical, as
>'funding system' belongs to us and operated largely
>by us (despite that some undesirable political
>interfering does occur), and it is up to us to
>improve it, or let it deteriorate further.

That's assuming there are more of 'us' then them?
I say those with the most power and control in this current system
are the same ones who personally benefit the most from it.

They will not want to change it... hell, just look at the support
Gallo gets and you can see what I mean.

>These are the points I can think of reflecting on
>recent postings. As Bert Gold noticed yesterday we
>need a program to agree upon to initiate the actual
>change.

I say we look at the old space program model, combined with the
current clinical model for that.

We got men to the moon because everybody worked *together* on the
same goal and everybody was considered important... from the
janitor and the person who sharpened pencils, up to the PhDs and
beyond.

And that goal was not to make money and collect a paycheck... but
to get a man to walk on the moon.

We desperately need such a mentality in cancer and aids research!

For if we could get a man to walk on the moon in such a short
period of time... why is it 15 years into this pandemic and we
still have little to nothing to show for it?

One reason is because we have no standards in medical research -
combined with very little ethics.

Thus, we need to create a much more higher level of ethical
standards within our field.

Next, we need to create research laboratories where there are
internal standards on how well the work is actually done and the
data produced is as accurate as possible.

To do that we need to standardized the field...

Research techs and phd's need to become certified in their
respected specialties and labs should become accredited.

Then only accredited labs should be allowed to even apply for
grants and monies.  And those with the best *ideas* could then be
funded.

>For all (and contrary to what may appear at first
>glance), the overdue reforms are NOT really that
>radical - what they call for is simply a better
>expressed respect of members of our community to
>each other.

I say it needs to be radial.  Too many people are suffering and
dying while we sit around 'intellectually' discussing this.

>I recently thought on the following 'paradox': why memebrs
>of several other highly visible interest groups have
>recently gained singificant, if not admirable, social
>concessions in their positioning in our society - something
>which we (scientists) seem to be unable to do with our own
>cause and only let more and more kicks fall on us.
>(And by all means we are not a group who seems to be
>intelectually inferior to others !). So, what is our
>problem ?
<snip>

>And above all, for them (members of other special
>groups) their common goals are much more important than
>their personal interests. This is where we (scientists)
>have still a bit of homework to do.

A bit?  The name of the game has become survival... survival of the
lab, of your workers, even of your project (which is actually
becoming more and more the goal of getting something patented then
actually finding something significant to add to the pool of
knowledge?).

And I'm sorry... but I just don't buy into the end justifies the
means attitude expressed by many abusing the current system.
Doesn't work for me.

I say we need a hell of a lot more work on this.

>But taking into account our traditional (not fictional, I hope !)
>capacity to intellectually identify and SOLVE often very difficult
>problems, I have little doubt that we CAN do it, if we put
>our will and commitment to it.

I don't believe it and I don't see such a thing happening.  For
today, no... we have lost the ability and technology to go back to
the moon again.

And now to find the ability to turn research back away from self
interest?  For you're talking about abolishing the Patent Reform
act of 1980 - no way.  Won't happen.

Sorry for being such a defeatist... but I really think it's out of
our hands and control to do anything about all this.

The future looks very bleak from where I sit... and discoveries
will be made in spite of all this - but it will just take a hell of
a lot more time and many more deaths in the meanwhile.

>Wish you all happy and prosperous New Year.

And to you as well... keep dreaming of your new age of reason in
science - because that's all we really have these days - hopes and
dreams for a better tomorrow.

-Kathy



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