Search Results for "didn't funded "

Feb 24 2015

So I didn't get a fundable score, either

Here are things that I am grateful for, right now, when I didn't get a fundable score:

1. I am old enough not be totally incapacitated for 12 to 48 hours with grief and depression.

2. I am mature enough that I am not going to beat myself up and say that I'm stupid, that I'm incompetent, that my science sucks.

3. I have enough self control not to go out and get 3 gallons of expensive ice cream and eat it over a period of a few hours till I feel even more miserable about myself.

4. Nor am I going to take it out, in one form or another, on my current partner. I am not going to pick a fight, so I that can say that no one cares at all about me. No one in my life right now deserves that.

5. I am not going to blame: the molecular geneticists, Millennials, clinical idiots who don't like animal models, GenX, Sally Rockey, the study section chair, the reviewers, my mother, men, or anyone else. Not because they aren't at fault, but because it doesn't matter. Fault is irrelevant here. Getting funded is the goal.

These are all things I have done in the past.

It will be a while till I get pink sheets (reviews). I will read them. I will be unhappy. I will try & rewrite (as a new grant, of course).

Meanwhile, it's time to trot out ideas for proposals B and C and work on making them presentable, i.e., submittable.

My heart goes out to all the young people who are in the same boat, folks who haven't learned what I've learned about responding to being trashed by study section. Because it hurts a lot to be rejected.

If my thoughts help, great. That's why I write this blog. If they don't, well, my heart is still with you, whether you want it or not.



16 responses so far

Apr 27 2017

The realities of modern politics and NIH funding: lone PI edition

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Let's start by defining what I am not: I am not at a MRU. I do not run a flash lab. I do not have multiple grants, multiple grad students, multiple postdocs. Right now, I've got one of each. When I started developing a second project, working with a wonderful young PI who came to me with a great idea, my current postdoc joked that I was going to become a BSD. My response: I would love to be a BSD.

But where I am in terms of running my lab, I don't have a lot of  financial flexibility.

What do I have: great colleagues. A chair, who by and large, appreciates me. This department, my  (relatively new) department is filled with people like me: one grant, small lab. Everybody gears up in the summer, and takes medical students (very serious, hard working, wonderful medical students) on as summer fellows. These are people who are  largely in the same boat as I am.

Last year, after much struggle (and submitting 2-4 proposals a year) I got refunded. Yes, I'm a boomer, and it's allegedly easier for me than thee. I acknowledge the issues that my younger colleagues have, but again, that's another post. I am glad to have this grant, I am doing something that Might Make A Difference for Babies, and certainly is chock full of basic neurophysiology goodness.

There was some initial weirdness from my IC, for which I am now very grateful. The grant started in August, but my IC didn't want me to have an August anniversary date. There are too many grants with August anniversaries, I was told. So, I started August, but they made my renewal May 1. But they did give me the first "full" (after the mandatory 18% cut to all grants in this IC) year, albeit for the reduced time period.

Now if I was a paranoid type, I might think they did that on purpose to make life miserable for me. Or because they didn't Care About Me. Why? Because one of the Rites of Spring is the Annual Congress Screws with the Federal Budget Follies.  In the past, this happened, and I don't remember it impacting me, and somehow NIH muddled through. It may have been that my non-competitive renewals (annual renewals on a 3 or 5 year grant) came at a Good Time relative to the Federal Budget.

But, now, I've got issues. Some major. Some minor.

Minor first: my 2nd year of funding did not come in when it should have. And the idiots in University Accounting sent emails to the postdoc, the grad student and the tech that "because your Grant is over, your personnel form has been terminated". I had some very anxious people inquiring. Sigh. Lab meeting: yes there is enough carryover to pay everyone's salary for at least 6 months. This is just an administrative thing. No, I have redone everyone's personnel form. And no, I'm not, the Chair is not, the Dean is not going to let you go because NIH has not sent next year's money. You are valued.

Major next: well, yesterday the 2nd year came. It has been cut 30% from requested. I looked at the number in disbelief. It was a tight budget to  start with. 30% is more than someone's salary.  More than two sets of experiments. And all the travel.

Pro response: Thank you very much sir. Please may I have another?

2nd Pro Response: write to the guy listed on ERA  Commons as the "financial contact". I have found the people in this role to be helpful and polite, as long as I stay polite. I asked about this and apologized for bothering. "No, it's what we are here for". I got lots of explanation, and only a little reference to the unintelligible rules.

Basically, because the federal government does not have a budget, and we (the people) are operating under a continuing resolution, all NIH awards  (right now) in this IC are being cut. Some IC's are cutting more than others. The cuts, if NIH budget is cut, are likely to be permanent.

I know people who go back and argue for more money. 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". Maybe there are some really big, really really big BSD's who can do this. Maybe they count on sheeple like me acquiescing, so they can have more money.

Because of the short first year, I've got some carryover to ease through this year. Because I figured out a major experimental cost saving, I will be OK this year and next. But by year 4, I will be having trouble figuring out where to cut. There won't be any fat left.

For my part, I am glad to have my one r01. I am glad to have my small lab and to keep pushing on the frontiers in my small way. I would love to have that 30% back. My department chair would love for me to have the 30% back, as most of it is going to come out of my salary support. It's sure as hell not coming out of trainee salaries, or experimental supplies, or animal per diems. We just keep going.


3 responses so far

Apr 06 2017

meta advice for getting tenure

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Make your chair you ally.

It is not about love/hate relationship.

It is not about being angry with your chair or with other men.

In the end it is not at all about what you feel.

An older woman, who rejoined academia, and is now an assistant professor at the age of 50+ came to see me. I didn't even have to hear the words. I heard the tone. She is angry. She is pissed. She is an invisible older woman who is doing generally very good things.

So the first thing I asked her is: do you want to get tenure? That matters. Life is one long cost-benefit decision. If you don't want tenure, you can do whatever you want to whom ever you want and be as angry as you like. But if you want tenure, you can't. Its that simple. Yes, yes, there are marvelous brilliant fucking snowflake geniuses who can do whatever they want. We are not them. At least, I'm not, nor was the woman in my office.

Do you want tenure?

Then there is one piece of meta-advice, one meta-criterion: make your chair your ally. A bit on meta-criteria: it makes the laundry list of little things to do go away. Just ask yourself: does this advance the meta-criterion? For writing grants, its make the reviewer your ally. For getting tenure, its often (but not always) make the chair your ally. Yes, of course, you have to publish and get funded.

Fighting with your chair does not make it past the meta-criterion. It just doesn't.  When you've got something you want to do, and you chair disagrees, fighting is not going to work. Persuading your chair. Working towards understanding with your chair: these are acceptable and possibly successful, strategies.

This is the first part... because its an ongoing thing.

4 responses so far

Dec 19 2016

Serving on a Study Section

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As it does, there was some discussion on the tweets about serving on study section a bit ago. I've been busy with end of term stuff, so didn't get around to finishing this off till just now.

Firstly, serving on a study section, any study section, is about the best thing you can do to enhance your grantsmanship. The learning is relentless. I, funded now for many years, still learn something new every time I do. Furthermore, the landscape of funding/grant success  changes. You can get some sense of that change from blogs, from NIH, etc, but study section is ground zero for promulgation of that change. You can learn grantsmanship elsewhere (there are wonderful courses - take one), but information and watching the process is dense information. It is efficient for education.

But, I hear you say, I know that Potty. I've done it once or twice (as the NI, or ad hoc'd), but what about long term membership? This is what the tweets discussion was about. I'm being asked to serve on the section that funded me, you say? What to do

[As an aside, I was talking to the SRO for the study section where my stuff mostly goes. He told me that for CSR sections you must have an R01 to serve. In-house, IC specific sections may or may not have different rules.]

I still maintain that serving on a section, doing the four year term is a vastly valuable experience. Some people recommended ad hoc'ing. Some people pointed out that if you are on the section your proposals go to a Special Emphasis Panel (SEP) which is usually a more difficult review (because it's smaller number of people, it's usually on the phone, it's usually a small number of proposals, sometimes only yours). I think this drawback is of less importance than the value from sitting on a study section as a full member.

When I was younger, during my first R01, I sat on a study section for two terms. That meant my 2nd R01 was reviewed elsewhere. I really don' t remember, although at the time it was incredibly important to me. Things were different then, and I don't know that this is possible now. I think I got my first funded by chance? Ha. It was good, but probably would get triaged today. What sticks with me, lo these many years later, is that I learned and benefited tremendously from that experience.

There are other lesser benefits. You get a snapshot of pre-publication science. Where the field is going. You learn about related fields that aren't yours,  but fall in the same general area. You make friends and colleagues and will get input that you just won't get anywhere else. Yes, yes, you can get this at meetings, but the community and social sense that arises here is intellectually much more intimate. If you are young, you are much more likely to have time to talk with people who wouldn't notice you at those meetings. And you may find that your science, your perspective on science changes, grows, evolves. Mine certainly grew, in ways that I did not expect. Being exposed to different ideas and work is valuable. Finding how to be exposed is difficult, and one can waste a lot of time being exposed to stuff that doesn't change you.

A brief word about logistics. When you are appointed to a panel, there is an approval process. After the SRO asks you, and you agree, you send a CV, and Important People Somewhere (depending on the SS) approve you. This process is usually not for the next section, but for 2-3 down the road. So if you've got a proposal in the pipeline queued up for the next round, your appointment isn't going to impact on it.

So, why in the words of the tweet, "mess with something that's good", i.e. Your relationship with the SS, the SRO. So, if they are asking you to be on it, chances are one of the people who liked your now-funded proposal is rotating off. They need your expertise, right? Even if that that person doesn't rotate off now, they will, and probabilisticly sooner rather than later. Approximately 25-30% of a SS turns over each year. Lots of ad hoc's can't or won't serve a real term, so no guarantee that you'll have anything like the same study section on the next submission, anyway, or the same expert reviewing your proposal. That relationship? It's fleeting.

In the end, the benefits (to you, for you) of being on a panel far far outweigh the drawbacks. If you're asked to serve, chances are you are already funded, so moving your proposals elsewhere may not be such a big deal (do you really need 3 or 4 R01's?, but that's a different post).

There have been lots of posts to this end, not just from me, but from DM, etc. But right now, I'm writing this in my corner breakfast place, and there is not Internet. Just do a search on study section and scientopia and get more input.

8 responses so far

Nov 18 2016

Ode to Friends

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This post was going to be about my mother. But I realized as I wrote it in my head that it was really about my girlfriends.

A few days ago, I was feeling sad about my mother, and I saw a picture, taken at some local fundraising event, of me with six of the most marvelous women in the world. They are marvelous because they are my friends.

When I see a picture like this, one of Urusala LeGuin's short stories pops into my head. It's a story set in her universe from Left Hand of Darkness, a powerful book unto itself. The story is framed as a series of snapshots, a this device that echoes one of the themes of the story, how our memory is often frozen like a picture.

The picture with my friends is still fresh, it was only last week. But in a month or two, I will remember the event, but not feelings exactly at that moment.  Maybe in a year or two, I will not remember even where we were at the time.

I look at the picture, and I know similar ones exist, ones with a different mix of people's faces in them. I know, because I've seen them. And while I don't know the faces in those pictures, on Facebook, on Twitter, in miscellaneous blog posts, I know the feeling.

These women love me and each other. And it doesn't matter how smart or thin you are. It doesn't matter if you work in a factory (as one does) or teach school (as another does) or have several squillion NIH dollars (or not). It doesn't matter if you are fat or fit. It is a friendship born out of shared time together, of helping when things are tough, and looking out for someone else.

I have not always had time for women like this in my life. And now, looking back, I know why I didn't have time. I am not even sure, as wonderful as having such women in my life is, I am not sure that I would be here, now, where I am if I had. Family and job often sucked everything out of me. But there were also times and places in my life when I thought these women didn't exist, or at least exist for me. And that was wrong.

When I moved to almost-MRU in the Middle-of-fracking-nowhere (as it seemed to me at the time, I know better now), I was emotionally devastated. I had probably hit 5 or 7 of the top 10 stressors in life (although not getting funded by NIH isn't on most standard lists, it is on ours). As I have at other times in my life, I plastered "I can make this work" smile on my face, and stood up and taught large classes of frequently indifferent students. I sat in front of a computer and lost myself in data. Or in grant proposals. But I was not happy in my Potenmkin Village of life.

And I found these women. They didn't just fall into my life, although that is possible. I found them, and made an effort towards friendship. Without meaning to, they saved my life. I know that I have, on occasion, saved theirs. These women are there for you. They are worth finding. They are worth the energy of reaching out to. They will save your life.



One response so far

Aug 22 2016

Managing Techs: Part 1, a case study

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DJMH said in a comment to the last post:

I would like to know why you thought it was appropriate to involve the tech in this. You're the manager, and you put the tech in the uncomfortable situation of possibly ratting out a co-worker.

This decision, and in fact, management of techs, is very much a function of who the tech is.

In the last post I didn't include some background, etc, (like that post needed more length, anyway). So, here's some relevant information that when into my managing techs, in general, and this one in particular. I am, as readers know, old for these parts (being the internet). I'm doing my best to uphold Boomer Honor, which according to some is oxymoronic. Or just plain moronic. I've been a prof for about 30 years, and been pretty steadily NIH funded since the beginning. I've had 7 techs in that period of time, but some years with no tech at all. And they are all very different people, with different goals and different skill sets.

Also relevant is that I run a small lab. During the year, it's me, a postdoc, a tech. Now I've got a (yes, a, as in one) grad student, who is an MD/PhD, which is about the only kind of PhD student I'm willing to take at this point. In the summer I get another 2-4 summer types, and we really ramp up the experiments.

But irrespective of size I try to run a lab that in today's lingo is "flat". I try and reduce the hierarchy and the effects of hierarchy, as appropriate for people's goals and skills. This is much easier in a small lab. I involve the tech and postdoc in everything that is of even remote interest to them. Of course there are things, such as each other's salary, that they don't have to know. But we meet as a group and talk about what people are doing, and everyone gets some say in what they do. Yes, there are things, such as the nitty gritty of extracting data from electrophysiology recordings, that no one wants to do.

So why did I involve the tech in the problem of Jane? Firstly, it was Tech who brought the problem to me. She is the one who signs off on the time cards, something she & I discussed and agreed upon. Secondly, if Tech had said: I don't want to do this, it would have totally, and appropriately, fallen to me. But this particular person, Tech, is functions very much as a "lab manager", and is incredibly good with people.  She had set up the complex schedules for our summer experiments (which involve extensive human  labor, often working in pairs), and really knew the summer students. She was outraged that someone would take advantage of the lab in this way. She was outraged that someone would behave unethically.

In this situation, in this case, it did not occur to me NOT to include the tech in the problem. Even if I had discovered the problem, and I decided that I needed to be the one to handle it, I would have presented it to both the PD & Tech and gotten their opinions on what was happening, and what should be done about it.

Yet, I would have done this with all the techs I have had over the course of my career. There were some who were professionally younger, as opposed to chronological age. There were some who were computer/electronic wizards, but not so great in managing people. But by having this  tech talk to the student first, it was one way to defuse the situation (if it was an honest mistake), and keep the inquiry casual.

If I had endless & bottomless money (hahaha) I would hire people of many different skills, and have lots of people with lots of different abilities. I'd have a programmer and a people manager and a data processor and an animal wrangler. But despite what some people think, even aging blue-haired profs don't have endless money, and hire the best they can and work with what they have.

So in hiring a tech, one needs to ask oneself, what is the most important thing  I  need in my lab, right now, to get the data, papers, results, I need for this stage of my career? Early career people have different needs then recently tenured, etc. Talking about how to hire and how to manage is another post. Stay tuned.




10 responses so far

Aug 04 2016

Thinking about dementia in our elderly

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I have a friend, seldom seen, with a wonderfully improbable name, who lives in California. She is a pyschologist who worked in what was then called "old-age homes", and now have other names. But its still the same place: where we send/where they go when the elderly in our society can't cope on their own any more.

Some of these places are lovely and supportive, filled with caring staff and activities and wholesome, delicious food. Some are not, and are nursing homes that smell of strong disinfectent, because there is not enough time and not enough staff to clean all the incontent residents. Over the last 10 plus years of taking care, to various degrees, of my parents, I have seen many of these places. When I live in the big city, in the inner city near MRU, I went from time to time to visit people who had lived on my block, people who didn't have either money or family. It broke my heart to be in those places that took Medicare, and see how little that money bought.

My mother was both good and lucky. She saved and saved her whole life, and now has enough money to be in a place that pays the staff more than minimum wage. It smells fresh and clean, and not like disinfectent, or worse, vomit and urine. My mother has almost no motor skills left. She can't walk, let alone stand, she can't feed herself or dress herself or take care of herself in any way. She can indicate likes and dislikes by spitting food out. The people who care for her are kind and gentle and understand that people with dementia are not always nice, but that it is the disease talking.

My friend from California, when her kids were grown and out of the house, decided to stop working with the elderly and go back to her first calling, working with very young, pre-language children (of variable ages). She said to me: the problems are the same, independence, and lack of skill. But, she said, even with the most damaged children, there is hope. Their trajectory is upwards. With the elderly, it is not.

I see my Mom frequently enough that I do not notice all the graduatal changes. Even if I'm gone for a week or so, the course of loss in people with dementia is saw-toothed, up and down, backwards and forwards. But in the now nearly years since I moved to nearly-MRU, and brought her with me, she has lost. There is no language left, and almost all her speech is gone. She doesn't try and tell me jokes in her nonsense, child-babble. She did trying singing a few weeks back. A couple with a electric piano and microphone came to the place she lives and sang songs I remember my mother singing to me when I was a child. My mother sang along to Chattanooga ChooChoo. She tried to do the HokeyPokey. But that was months ago, and she has not done anything like that lately.

What do we as a society do for people like my Mom? It is very clear how little we do for people who were not as smart and lucky and hardworking as my mom, who saved enough to buy the care they need. As my father the economist used to say: there are never enough resources for everything everybody wants. We do not have enough for the children in our society. And one can (and some have) argued that children, and their upward trajectory are more worthy of our resources. Others say that everyone looks out for their own interests and those interests are dictated by stage of life. I am not sure that when I was in my 30s and struggling with family and early career that I would have cared very much at all about the elderly. Certainly all those people opposing Obamacare, let alone Medicare aren't thinking about their own old age.

We ignore the poverty in our midst. We ignore the needs of not only the sad children at the fringe of society, but the people who have handicaps and are disabled. We ignore the elderly,  for whom a visit and a hug mean everything at this point. We want beauty and turn our heads from things we do not perceive as beautiful. And our elderly, with dementia, with no skills or resources to argue for themselves,  the elderly on their downwards trajectory are some of the least beautiful people in our society.

I do not disagree with any person chosing how to spend their personal and earned resources. But I do believe as human beings we must, as part of our humanity, give away some of those resources, be it time, money or energy. Give away with no hope or expectation that something will come back to us because of these gifts we give away. This is not some personal life-long balance sheet for the gifts we received, being born where we were. This is part of what it means to be a human being.

Visiting the elderly with dementia is scary. You can't really argue with them. They insist you are their dead mothers. Or children.  Or their evil dentist (that was last week for me). They have no executive function, and curse like sailors and when you come to visit they tell you  to go to hell. They have clothes with food stains on them, and are more interested in dessert than talking with you. Or they start crying and beg you to take them home, because they are lost and this isn't the Right Place.

But in our incredibly busy lives, our lives fighting to get funded and published and get a job, there are others who are much worse.  Make a 30 minute visit this weekend. No one will know. You won't get any brownie points, a raise, or even recognition. But inside you will know that you've done something good. And someone else, someone else who may not even know, someone else's life will be better.

2 responses so far

Aug 01 2016

Nobody own ideas, even when they are your best beloved babies

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So it happened to me. I got one of my PubMed alerts and there it was: a paper on an idea I had put out in a grant proposal about 2-3 years ago. It wasn't just an idea, of course. It was a well developed proposal for an intervention for a particular pediatric problem, with detailed neurological justification for testing it.

The senior author was on the study section that reviewed three versions of the proposal (the original 2 submissions, and then a "new" one). The introduction and justification for the work is almost plagiarizing my proposal, and the cites are all the same except, of course, my early work.

The paper uses human infants, instead of animal models, and reads a bit hastily done. Working with kids, they can't get the supporting, invasive physiologic data that I record in an animal model.

But.... It still hurts. I couldn't get funded to do the work, and I knew it was a damn good proposal. Mine project was more expensive than taking it to a clinic that sees 200 kids a year with the problems in which I'm interested. Rather than developing the idea, with strong controls, these guys jerry-rigged a device and tested in the sickest kids showing that it made a difference. They demonstrated that what I wanted to do works. It makes a difference. I am glad for the kids it will help. I can still go back and fill in the mechanism, and understand more about how things work, and why things go wrong.

So, no I didn't own the idea. And yes, it was obviously a good one. And life and science and my lab go on.

ALSO: see update here

8 responses so far

Apr 18 2016

When to leave the party

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Whizbang wrote a series of wonderful posts about going to the Experimental Bio meetings. EB is actually a series of organizations including physiology, anatomy and....

One of her best posts (for me at least) is talking about why she is going to these meetings, despite having given up her lab. It is a beautiful tribute to the science that underlies medicine. I have taken her words to heart and will use them when I teach the first year med students, who by the end of the term are sufficiently jaded to question why they have to learn basic science.

I had another, very personal reaction to her post, as she spoke about leaving research. She's not as old as me (I think), and is certainly working hard at other important & valuable things that an MD can do. And, importantly, from her writing, she is enjoying what she does.

I've seen lots of models of how to age in this world in which we live. I know people, in their 80s still scientifically & intellectually active. I'm not talking about the big dogs, hogging R01s.  These are people writing up the last things they have to say. Not funded (so relax, my genX friends), but still thinking, still engaged. One of my early mentors, in a different field, in a different life, quit at about age 65. He left the Big City University, bought a house in a small town in the middle of Lake Michigan, and with his artist wife, lived another life, very happy life.

I've seen people who have stayed too long at the dance, the academic equivalent of drunk and ill and socially ugly. Lonely, but not knowing what else to do, until someone had to ask them to first give up their lab, then their teaching. Some of these people had early dementia, some who had other health issues, some were just tired, but didn't know what else to do.

Then, there was my friend Bob. Bob was a single dad, who had not been well treated by his -ex. He raised two great kids with whom I am still good friends). He rediscovered an old love, renewed the love, got married. But he had a job in one place and she in another. They were mid-50s, and didn't quite have enough money to retire. So they lived apart, saw each other as possible, launched their kids. Finally, after about 3,4 years, his love retired and moved to where Bob lived. They were happy. They had a new-to-them house. Just them. Bob was trying to figure out how to swing retirement, so they could do things and not be tied to the academic year. He gave up his lab, tied up his research loose ends. He was a great teacher, but told me he was teaching for the money, and wished he didn't have to. His teaching was great and he did the intro classes no one else really wanted to do. He had Plans, but they were a year or so off. And then he died. Suddenly. In a silly, stupid, horrible accident. He and his love had had dreams, but they were not to be.

I do not want to die in the saddle. I do not want to stay too long at the party. I do not want to have dreams and plans and die before I get them to them (although if I die, how will I know?). Yet, right now, I still have some science left in me. I still have lots of ideas. I have trainees who I think I am helping. But I also have an incredible partner. I see the models, but none seem to fit. Right now. Right now.







6 responses so far

Apr 01 2016

NIH frustrations

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I have a great postdoc. He decided that he would like to write an F/K award to branch off on his own project. Perhaps I pushed (a little) to get him to think about this. But he is doing it right. He has a project. It relies on the techniques he learned in my lab, but its a different disease entity, and it will require him to learn some new other things that is well outside my realm. He's got a secondary mentor (for the those other things) and they've just hired a new faculty at almost-MRU who will be a great third mentor. When we went to the major clinical meetings for Our Stuff, he sat down and talked with the two other PI's near this new area. I know both of these (much younger than me, well, but 80% of the world is, now) folks, and have reviewed their grants. He had Serious Science talks with both, as well as more Informal Sharing of Victuals with them. I sat in on some, but not others.

What can I say? He is Doing It Right. The project is good. We spent a month hashing over the Specific Aims. He started collecting some preliminary data. I should point out, he's got some first-authored papers from my R01 (which has paid his salary up till now). He's given a bunch of talks over 2 years at various meetings. He can genuinely claim to have, if not completely mastered, at least demonstrated skill, ability & knowledge of what he would need to make the F/K go.  He wrote to NIH staff about this. And... that's where today's story starts.

F&K awards are reviewed in the IC's. And the most obvious fit for the PD's proposal, let's call it NIOBRS (institute of obscure but relevant science), requests (as do others) that you talk with the PO for training prior to submitting. They want for you to send a copy of the SA's, the abstract, maybe a little something about yourself (always a good idea: I've studied bunny hoppy from perspective X, but now wish to branch into perspective Y). He did this and we didn't hear back.

He kept collecting the prelim data, which of course involving animals, had its share of set-backs and disasters. We thought the biggest problem we'd have were the problems in the data. But, alas, no.

Finally we got a very curt email from the (new to the position) PO at NIOBRS. Basically: we're not interested. You're not in our portfolio. This is debatable, and more on that below (which is my real frustration). The message simply said "I spoke with the PO in this sub-area of NIOBRS and she says that we do not study this any more". Note the "any more". After depression, frustration and gnashing of teeth, the PD and I sat down, identified 3 other IC's that might be appropriate. One longshot never answered. One (a big one - NINDS) said "oh, this isn't ours, this belongs to NIOBRS". Hahaha. The third, most appropriate where co-mentor is funded NIC-MF (National Institute of Co-Mentor Funding), still (2 weeks later & one reminder) has not answered. But the deadline (8 April) is out of reach, now.

We have discussed and re-assessed. We will try & reach the NIC-MF PO for next cycle. Co-M and I and PD will discuss turning it into a R21, because that might fly better at NIC-MF. The PD has ordered more animals and will try another go round of prelim data, hopefully enough for a paper (there's enough for an abstract right now). The first order of business is to take care of the PD.

But, but, but...

This has been brewing for a while. NIOBRS has been trying to shed my area for a few years now. Even the renewal of my current R01 (which belongs to NIOBRS) got assigned elsewhere, despite my requesting NIOBRS in the cover letter. But as I have been submitting significant numbers of proposals (and of course, getting them rejected) get NIOBRS as tertiary, if at all. There is an art, as well as a science, to working with the IC's at NIH. You need to be polite, but insistent. It matters. But there comes a point when no matter what you do, the PO has decided something else. In this case, bunny hopping is no longer in the portfolio at NIOBRS. In fact, no one seems to want it at all. Cancer and bunny hopping can go to NCI, aging bunny hopping, as long as it is part of the syndrome of frailty and aging, can go to NIA. Failure to thrive at bunny hopping in infants can go to NICHD. Neural control of bunny hopping to NINDS. etc. But none of those  institutes really want bunny hopping as part of their portfolio. I have heard "Why not send it to NIOBRS?" many times.

This brings up the question: is funding bunny hopping worthwhile? The use of "bunny hopping" suggests no,  and the ironic point that if it wasn't bunny hopping, it would be of interest. And, if no one wants it, maybe its just you Potnia and your PD that thinks its worth funding. But, what "bunny hopping" is standing in for here, is a genuine clinical problem.

Here are the things that are, in my view, politically working against bunny hopping. Firstly, MD's are not the first line of treatment. There are several "therapist" diseases/problems where the first line is physical therapists, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, etc. Therapist fields, not surprisingly, are traditionally female fields. As is true of nursing, and even more recent occupations such as Physician Assistants, these callings are becoming more gender-diverse, and medical schools are nearly 50/50. But historically and leadership-wise, therapists are women. Problems treated by women are not things to which BSDs gravitate. And, not surprisingly funded at lower rates.

Secondly, NIOBRS did fund a lot of, in my view, very bad bunny-hopping research over the 90s through 2000's (not mine, of course, the very bad part). Large RCT's that found nothing for the "standard treatments", but with PI's so invested in the treatments that they couldn't say so. I still see this when I go to meetings and see statistical horrors presented, such as "we found no effect at all, but if we look at the cases where we did see some effect, there is significance...". NIOBRS funded the big dogs in bunny hopping and there wasn't much to show for it, so now, when funding gets tight, they have redefined their mission away from bunny hopping.

The burdens of history are myriad.

So what to do? I do not believe I am going to change NIH. I do not mean to dampen the spirits of all the young people who believe that they can change things from the inside and the outside. Nor do I belittle the Chris Reeves and Michael J. Fox's of this world, who work very hard to change the landscape of medical research. But I am not a famous movie star who will start a foundation to fund bunny hopping. I must work with the system that is.

I do believe that bunny hopping is important. I do believe that my work (and my PD, too) has important basic science and clinical implications. The advantage I do have is not that I am a BSD to whom NIH will listen, but that I am an old and wily scientist. I know how to place my work (spin? perhaps) in the context of things that IC's have said are important. Bunnies have trouble with blood flow and often have strokes whilst hopping: NHLBI here I come.


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