Is this Russia?

Apr 28 2017 Published by under Uncategorized

Following comment appeared to yesterday's post (my emphasis):

 Misha Koksharov

"Some PI's go nuclear: I can't do the work with only this money. That runs the risk of "ok, we'll take it all back and give it to someone who can". " Welcome to Russia.

 

**NOTE ADDED**: Misha tells me "That's just how scientists have to work in Russia for like the last 27 years (to do some science on very scarce resources)". It wasn't a political statement at all.

 

The first bit is mine, a tongue in cheek NIH response to the PI nuclear option. Welcome to Russia is Ser Koksharov's response. I disagree. In fact, I think it misses the point, so I'm going to take a moment to clarify.

Lots of people go through all the stages of grief when their funding gets cut.

denial: this must be a mistake, no one would cut my grant this much

anger: those fuckers

bargaining: please, please don't cut my grant this much

depression: I shall never win the Nobel prize without more money 

acceptance: who the heck am I kidding? I am FUNDED.

My comment was about the NIH response is people stuck in anger or bargaining or both. My comment was to the snowflakes who think that they deserve the money that the rest of don't.

My channeling of my inner NIH PO is the response I wrote. It was meant to be (a little bit) humorous. Or not. It's meant to help one get to the acceptance stage. I don't see that as "Russian" or being run by oligarchs. I see it as what a beleaguered NIH staff person, who has 100 PI's calling up and crying and moaning, gnashing their teeth and rending their sackcloth, because they've had a significant cut to funding, does on the 20th such call. Let me say, in all my years, including many on a study section, I have never seen an NIH staff say something as bad as that. Mostly their badness lies in not returning phone calls, or perhaps being short and curt on the phone. In fact, the other day, someone tweeted something an NIH staff said about the worst part or the hardest part of their job being talking to upset PI's (if you've got the original tweet, please add to comments ). See tweet below!

Please keep in mind, the poor soul talking to you about your cuts did not make the decision. They may have had a small say in it, but balancing a budget is something that clearly lots of people can't do. And if NIH has some issues in getting it right, they are still way ahead of Congress.

Sadly enough, the problems with funding, with significant cuts to awards, with low pay lines, predates this administration. There have been cuts due to continuing budget resolutions before, while congress acting like a bunch of spoiled babies (see: they've got high level health care they would deny to others, and can justify it). Yes, funding is worse now. Yes, if the "compromise" with Trump means only a 10% cut to NIH budget, things will get much much worse. Yes, the impact of that worseness will fall disproportionately on the young.

But that doesn't make this Russia.

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