My last post, which outlined a potential way to stay alive during the academic biomedical science cull that seems to be in progress, drew a couple of comments from DrugMonkey that I thought were worth discussing in a little more detail.
First up DM opines and asks:
you are certainly recommending a strategy that will enrage the Rock Talk commentariat. selfishness for the good of the herd? hmmm...
very provocative. how do we know where we draw the line of self-servedness?
First up, I have no doubt that there are may who comment over at the NIH's Rock Talk blog who would vehemently disagree with my strategy.
If you have a R01 (or equivalent) grant, you don't need another, you selfish bastard!
Actually, yes, yes you do. Having just one puts you in a very precarious position. You're screwed if you can't renew it in a reasonable amount of time. Kind of like, oh I don't know... Some of the commentariat at Rock Talk?
And let's be honest here. How many people, given the opportunity to land a second major grant, are going to turn it down? Including the Rock Talk commentariat?
Secondly, where do we draw the line? That's a tough one. More than one major grant, but less than what? That's going to be very field dependent. If you do a lot of animal model work, more than two may be necessary just to be able to support the colonies and personnel necessary to make decent progress. In my own work, which doesn't involve animals, two is probably sufficient. But maybe not...
In response to my comment that collaborators should be included as Co-I's on grants (and you as collaborator on theirs), DM pointed out:
Getting extra $$$ as a mere Investigator on another person's grant is a good gig...but as the knives come out for capping total direct costs or # of awards, it will *discourage* collaboration in this way. Who wants to have their own lab limited by the total grant award amount when half the budget is going to someone else?
To which I responded that yes, should total direct costs and/or number of awards be capped, then this would be an issue. But then the game has changed, hasn't it? At that point the knives really will be out and it will be every PI for themselves. Let's hope we don't go there because, as I replied:
It doesn't take much imagination to realize that those kind of changes will really screw science - only the BSD's will be able to do the kind of science that is currently done by small town grocer labs (like mine) via collaboration. More people will have money, but not enough for many of them to really do anything other than science that is very limited in scope.
Food for thought.