wasting money

S L Forsburg forsburg at nospamsalk.edu
Wed Jun 18 10:42:54 EST 1997


taguebw at wfu.edu wrote:
> : But it always made me think that the economy of scale doesn't work
> in
> : laboratory science. Every well- (overly?-) funded lab I'm familiar
> with
> : *wasted* enough money to run the good underfunded labs I know.
> 
> : Now if we could only get the federal granting agencies to skim 10%
> of the
> : grant money off the top 10% of the labs. Then the remaining 90% of
> the
> : labs in the country would probably have enough money to do some good
> : science.

Diane Carlisle (carlisle at gwis2.circ.gwu.edu) wrote
> Really though, this seems to me to indicate big problem with graduate
> education, as well as how grants are awarded.

I think we've all seen examples where big labs tend to brute-force
their science because they can afford to, with all that money.
There was an article in Science years ago suggesting that
the productivity per person dropped off in labs over about 10 people
in size.  It's my personal opinion that the NIH should not
give additional funding to anyone with 500,000 or more in direct
costs already.  The big guys are cannibalizing the young,
so I spend way too much time trying to re-write comparitively
small grants for  nitpickers on the study section and way too 
little time actually doing  the work!

The system is wasting a lot of bright people by supporting
a few "haves" and squashing the many "have nots".

Scrounging for money, whether by washing and racking tips or
by writing endless grants, is a waste of everyone's time and
resources.  These are supposed to be my most productive
years.  But compared to what the people 20 or even 10 years ago
accomplished, I'm doing very little, because of the struggle
for money.  Looking at big labs that thoughtlessly drop massive 
amounts of money doing so-so science, I sometimes wonder
why I bother--I am hobbled by the system.   

Damn the baby boom anyway!  ;-)

-- 
-susan, who would like to worry only about doing science for
a change

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S L Forsburg, PhD  forsburg at salk.edu
Molecular Biology and Virology Lab          
The Salk Institute, La Jolla CA 
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