Some Humility, Please...

kevin mckenna at nwu.edu
Fri Jun 7 18:03:25 EST 1996


In article <4pa7vf$1707 at itssrv1.ucsf.edu>, bgold at itsa.ucsf.edu (Bert Gold)
wrote:

> I just want to note, for the record, that I did write to Sherilyn
> Bell at the University of Toronto, asking if she would provide
> names of bona-fide Americans whom she was working alongside
> in order for me to confirm her assertion that Americans were
> welcome in Canada.

The Canadian immigration rules are that a preference for jobs is given to
Candian citizens and landed immigrants (like our resident alien "green
card"). However, this preference is not absolute. An employer can hire a
foreigner if a qualified Canadian is not available. Given the specialized
nature of science, this is not uncommon. I personally know of Americans
working in Canadian labs, one is a tenure track faculty. And no, I won't
give you their names. 

> To date, Sherilyn has not provided me with any information to
> contradict my statements here that de facto, if not de jure,
> Americans cannot work for Canadian institutions and thereby be
> paid from the $22,000,000 US NIH allotment that goes to 
> Canadian PIs. This in itself would not bother me so much, but between
> what I see as a better health Care System in Canada than the US

But funding for medical research in Canada is not very good right now. MRC
funds are at a low and pharmaceutical money is very scarce (single payer
with drug price controls makes Canada a very un-lucrative place to sell
drugs). Besides which, $22 M is a very small amount of money by NIH
standards. It's less than 0.2% of the 1996 budget. It certainly doesn't
look like the Canadians are looting our research funds.  

> and the fact that the US NIH, specifically NCI, 
> just awarded a grant to a Montreal PI to do what I just applied to do,
> AND we both (Dr. Montreal and I) just found out (at least I did) that
> a Swiss team has beat us to the cloning and sequencing of that gene
> anyway.  They are currently apparently patenting the sequence.
> 
> So, NIH is now in the awkward position of having issued a grant
> to do what has already been done, to a person who is a Canadian,
> and who is a NEOPHYTE (relatively) in the field. 
> 
> Science is, as Crick puts it, a ' ... Mad Persuit', but it really
> needn't be so harsh on our souls.  (athiests may substitute the word
> humanity, but will lose some of the subtlety of the comment).
> 
> I think it would be good for Canadians and Americans to try and
> learn from each other.

It's tough when you don't get a grant that you were really counting on. It
really does hurt and it's hard not to be bitter about it. Believe me, I
know. But to rave that it's because of Canadians unfairly stealing our
money or fraudulent scientists or greedy bureaucrats or a corrupt review
system comes off as hysterical sour grapes. Some humility, please.



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