Dr. Burton's COMMENTARY

Patrick O'Neil patrick at corona
Wed Jun 7 17:10:39 EST 1995



On 7 Jun 1995, Alexander Berezin wrote:

> As you admit, you spend 50 % of your time=20
> writing grant proposals (as, undoubtedly,
> most of your colleagues do too).
> 
> We have to admit that this is insanity.
> This is the result of TOO MUCH money availbale
> in the system. Instead of blaming the Congress

If money were soooo freely available and plentiful, then an investigator 
would not have to spend so much time seeking out funding.  Your logic is 
flawed.  I have yet to see a PI who is not worried at some point about 
the necessity to obtain more funding because their latest grant is 
running out.  Without the constant digging and writing, their research 
would come to a halt for lack of graduate researchers and lack of 
chemicals and equipment and software.  No chemicals, no research.  No 
equipment, no research.  No software, no research.  No graduate students, 
no research.  Postdocs are accepted only because they bring their own 
funding and do not tap into the limited fund pool for the lab in 
question.  Oh yeah, LOTS of easy money out there...so why do so many 
sweat blood every year or two in order to simply continue their work?

> 
> In short, it is time for us to learn how to do
> much better quality science with CONSIDERABLY LESS
> MONEY. 

Perhaps this is true for SOME types of research, but certainly not all. 
If this is the position you take, I could almost suspect that you are a
Luddite Jeremy Rifkin type who sees budget cuts as a means of stopping
biotech research.  Treatments and cures for diseases such as AIDs, TB,
cancer, etc, are not going to come from scaled-back research on the cheap. 
It take large amounts of time and a large number of interconnected
researchers with the best equipment, or no progress will be made. 


The other conclusion is that you could simply be a disgruntled researcher 
who's research is presently turned down for funding.  With limited funds, 
there HAS to be a cutoff whereby loser proposals or even good proposals, 
nevertheless, have to be turned down.  It there was all this money 
available that you speak of, then this wouldn't happen and just about any 
two-bit research proposal would be funded.  There are priorities because 
some directions of research are more critical than others in an 
atmosphere of shortage of funds.

Patrick




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