Funding: Clarifications to Harriman

U27111 at uicvm.uic.edu U27111 at uicvm.uic.edu
Thu Jan 4 02:11:45 EST 1996



gregoryh at bcm.tmc.edu (Gregory R. Harriman) from Baylor College of
Medicine wrote on 3 Jan 1996 18:24:39 GMT:

>     Your indictment of the PIs you've worked with before, while
>interesting, is irrelevant to your initial assertion that the
>expense of maintaining animal colonies is "a very good example of
>the type of waste which goes on in our field".

>     To the extent that your experience is representative of what
>goes on in biomedical research in general, it is an example of
>"how" research funds can be wasted by bad investigators.  It does
>not address the question of whether knock-out mouse colonies are
>a waste of research funding.

Sorry... I thought my point was obvious... for yes, knock-out mouse
colonies are a waste of research funding when they are poorly
ran/maintained and/or poorly done experiments are done on them by
bad researchers.

>You provide nothing in your commentary which addresses that
>issue.  The relevant question is whether the information gained
>from experiments with these mice will provide knowledge, insight,
>etc. into medical diseases, such that the benefit outweighs the
>risk.

I guess I just don't see that question as being the 'relevant' one
here?

For exactly how are we to determine whether the information
published on such experiments are truly beneficial?

Especially when dealing with an ever contaminating pool of
scientific knowledge... contaminated from researchers who's self
interests outweighs such loftier goals in the first place and a
system which encourages such behavior?

And only in time will we eventually find out the 'truth'... time
many people just don't have.

>     Try to keep the two issues separate, because the differences
>have very important implications.  If you are truly interested in
>seeing the quality of biomedical research improve (as you seem to
>be from previous posts), then you should be able to make a
>distinction between bad science being done and determining the
>right amount of research funding.

But I see the two issues as being directly connected.  For it's
because of the current funding system (and the patent reform act of
1980) why we have such an increase in bad science being done...
IMHO.

And if we create a system where 'good researchers' are properly
rewarded (by grants and monies) and the 'bad researchers' are
tossed out of the field... then maybe we can get farther faster?


BTW, I had the fortunate opportunity of having a job interview down
there at Baylor a year ago... probably the best place I have
interviewed to date!

Wonderful institution (great 'sounding' animal facility... since I
couldn't go in and actually see it!)... I was truly impressed from
what I saw there as well as from the people I met.

You should feel extremely fortunate to have such a fine refuge from
the madness which generally goes on just about everywhere else in
science.

Sincerely,

-Kathy



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