News and Events: Lab head culling, females neglected as research subjects, and more depressing budget news

Posted: March 9, 2014 in Ethics, Events, Funding, Jobs, Life as a post-doc, Policy, Science

“Has the cull begun? New data show that after remaining more or less steady for a decade, the number of investigators with National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding dropped sharply last year by at least 500 researchers and as many as 1000. Although not a big surprise—it came the same year that NIH’s budget took a 5% cut—the decline suggests that a long-anticipated contraction in the number of labs supported by NIH may have finally begun.”

Powerful article on the negative effects continued flat funding and budget cuts have had on the research force in the US (and especially on young scientists). Focuses on a poll of over 10,000 basic science researchers. Nothing too new in the poll’s findings, except that whereas even just a few years ago you would be hard pressed to find even 10% of lab heads encouraging their mentees to seek out non tenure-track positions and career alternatives, based on the poll, now more than 50% responded that they currently encourage this type of “alternative” career planning. Subscription required unfortunately.,0,528842.story

“Scientists continue to neglect gender in medical research, endangering women’s health by focusing on males in studies that shape the treatment of disease, according to a report released Monday.”

“US President Barack Obama’s budget proposal for the 2015 fiscal year seems destined to please no one. The US$3.9-trillion plan, released on 4 March, exceeds the spending limit approved for the year by Congress by about $56 billion, drawing quick rebukes from lawmakers. But it also proposes almost flat budgets for key research agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), which has disappointed science advocates.” For a supposedly science friendly president who has repeatedly claimed a strong commitment to basic biomedical research, his request for essentially flat funding for the NIH is very disappointing and disheartening.

“According to the agency’s Biomedical Research and Development Price Index, which calculates its purchasing power, the cost of doing research is expected to rise by 2.9% in fiscal year 2015, far outpacing the NIH’s 0.7% budget hike.” Case in point for why flat funding is actually a budget cut for the NIH.

See also:

From Dr. Sally Rockey’s blog Rock Talk: Success Rates, Award Rates, and Funding Rates”

“The South Korean Supreme Court has upheld a 2010 ruling that sentences disgraced cloning expert Woo Suk Hwang to a one-and-a-half-year prison term for embezzlement and violation of the country’s bioethics law. The term comes with a two-year probation, however, and if Hwang does not commit a crime during that period, he will not have to serve jail time at all. This is the final judgment on a trial that started in 2006 andreached its first verdict in 2009 after 43 hearings involving 60 witnesses.”

QS World University Rankings by Subject 2014, published on 25 February. University of Washington does quite well, with 23rd for medicine and 24th for biological sciences.

“Women whose male partners have high concentrations of three common forms of phthalates, chemicals found in a wide range of consumer products, take longer to become pregnant than women in couples in which the male does not have high concentrations of the chemicals, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions.”


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