Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Report from a Medical Research Conference

An EPJ Reader emails:

I attended a very large medical research conference this last weekend. Since the bulk of the medical research funding in the US comes from the government (National Institutes of Health, NIH), there was propaganda posted everywhere in the conference center: "Science save lives! Tell congress to fight against devastating cuts!" Of course, what they don't say is that from (roughly) 1999 to 2004 the NIH budget doubled, leaving current steady levels of funding in what one may perhaps call a popping of the bubble. Last decade's trainees are this decade's glorified bureaucrats with a sense of entitlement.

I was delighted to overhear a whispering conversation between two scientists ranting about the evils of government. To my surprise, one of them was a well respected and well published scientist working in my sub-specialty. I introduced myself and participated in their discussion. They got a bit flustered telling stories about how they feel looked down upon in academia for having their views and ultimately keep them to themselves. "I'm still a young PhD, so I can afford to be a bit of a loud mouth about this stuff without risking my entire career," I said. One of them looks at me and shakes her head, "That's sad. It should NOT be this way!"

Credibility note: My career path will not rely on government funding, but it does to some extent right now.

Once the "Save the science!" propaganda came up, I was quickly brought down to reality. One of them chimes in: "It's all about allocation of funds. But either way, it's not THAT much more money! They could stand to increase the budget."

And what arm of the state is not saying this?! I didn't ask them, but thought to myself "It should NOT be this way!"

All this propaganda is backfiring. Scientists my age are running for the hills into industry, teaching and non-science careers. Good.


  1. If I were a scientist, I'd work with Art Robinson in a heartbeat.

    I have little doubt he's one of the most intellectually honest and talented people out there.

    1. Art Robinson is a Creationist. His credibility among the scientific world is shit.