AnGenMap

Sample Discussion

Subject: On funding research- The Scientist on a Nature paper

From gianola@ansci.wisc.edu  Thu Sep 29 11:40:01 2011
From: Daniel Gianola 
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Subject: On funding research- The Scientist on a  Nature paper
Date: Thu, 29 Sep 2011 11:40:01 -0500

Many of us surely feel that the current system is extraordinarily
inefficient and cumbersome. Hopefully, this article will catalyze some
action on out part.

Daniel 

-------------------------------------------------------------
Q&A: Overhaul the Funding System 

Can science step in to find the best ways of allocating money for research? 

By Kerry Grens | September 28, 2011

It's a perennial complaint among scientists: grant writing takes up too
much time. "I think that there's pretty much wide agreement that scientists
have to spend a lot of time to write proposals, to review proposals, to
write progress reports, final reports, and do lots of things that are not
necessarily contributing to science," said John Ioannidis, a professor at
Stanford University's School of Medicine.

But it isn't just time that's spent unwisely, but billions and billions of
dollars that could be allocated in smarter ways, Ioannidis wrote in a
comment in today's Nature. The Scientist spoke with Ioannidis about his
ideas to fix science funding in the United States.

The Scientist: What are the current problems with the way science is funded
in America?

John Ioannidis:I think that the way that the funding system works, people
have to promise something that is exaggerated. They have to compete against
others who are promising something that would be spectacular, and therefore 
they need to make a huge claim that often they may not be able to deliver, 
just because of the odds of science. 

Or they have to promise something that would be highly predictable. It's
something that they may have already done or that they know what the answer
is going to be...  So in a sense I think the current system is almost
destroying the potential for innovative ideas and in many cases it even
fosters mediocrity.

TS: What's the best way to improve upon the current funding paradigm?

JI: What I advocated in that comment was we need to have some studies to
directly test, ideally in a randomized fashion, whether one strategy
performs better than another. One could think about pilot projects where
you have consenting scientists who say I'm willing to be randomized to
funding scheme A versus funding scheme B. A could be lottery allocation,
for example, and B could be merit-based. If we run these types of studies,
in a few years we can see what these scientists have done in the short
term. Maybe in the longer term we can also see whether their research
really made a difference. I'm in favor of experimenting, because we're
spending billions and billions of dollars and we're doing that with no good
evidence really.

TS: In your proposal for funding scientists according to merit, you mention
independent indices to measure a proposal's worth. What are some examples?

JI: I think that publications and citations should not be undervalued. They
could play a very important role in that assessment. But maybe combining
indices and paying attention to quality aspects other than quantity could
be informative. One could think of merging indices that exclude self-
citation or take into account the impact of papers rather than the amount 
of papers and adjust for co-authorship. There are indices to do that, and 
I think they can be objective if you combine them. 

On top of this we have the opportunity to build additional information into
the profile of an investigator based on scientific citizenship practices.
Things like sharing of data or protocols, and how often these data and
protocols are utilized by other researchers, how much do they contribute to
other aspects of improving science. 

I think it's an opportunity: if we really feel that some practices are
essential for science, and we want to improve these practices, then tying
them to the funding mechanism is really the prime way to make them happen.

TS: In this kind of scheme is seems like weight might be given to more
established scientists. What are ways to help younger faculty who don't
have such a track record?

JI: I would think that this is actually a problem of the current system,
rather than any proposal to create something new. The average age for an
investigator to get his first RO1 currently in the states is about 40 or 41
years old. People are going through 15 years of being active researchers,
and they still don't have independence. So I think that a system that is
based on merit could really get younger scientists on board much faster
than the current system.

Moreover, for example, if you use citation indices, you can always adjust
for the number of years that someone has been active. And there's some
evidence that the track record of some individuals could be identified from
fairly early in their careers.

I would also think that for young investigators it's probably okay to move
closer to the possibility of an egalitarian sharing, so give some
opportunity to lots of people early on for a few years and see what they can 
do. They will build a track record within a few years, and then you can 
start having some impact measures or citizenship practice measures. 

TS: How do we balance the interests of funding sure-bet science or
translational research versus very risky or basic science?

JI: This is not an easy question. I think people have a different perception
of what would be the appropriate allocation between these two strategies. It 
has to be a common consensus in the scientific community of what we really 
want to do. Currently I think innovative research is undervalued and not 
given enough opportunities to succe. 

J.P.A. Ioannidis, "Fund people not projects," Nature, 477:529-31, 2011.
 

-------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Daniel Gianola 
Sewall Wright Professor of Animal Breeding and Genetics 

Department of Animal Sciences Department of Biostatistics and Medical
Informatics Department of Dairy Science
--------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Department of Animal Sciences 
University of Wisconsin-Madison 
440 Animal Sciences Building 
1675 Observatory Dr. 
Madison WI 53706 
USA 

email: gianola@ansci.wisc.edu 
Telephone: 1-608-265-2054 Fax: 1-608-262-5157
http://www.ansci.wisc.edu/facstaff/Faculty/pages/gianola/index.html

"Nature is written in mathematical language" (Galileo Galilei). 
However, if nothing seems to work, try Bayes:


From ignacy@uga.edu  Fri Sep 30 23:14:51 2011
From: Ignacy Misztal 
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Subject: Re: On funding research- The Scientist on a Nature paper
Date: Fri, 30 Sep 2011 23:14:51 -0500

I am not sure that exagerration of potential results or inadequate assessment
of a scientist is a problem. After all, panelists on grant reviews know the 
reality and can adjust for it. 

The bigger problems could be indirect costs and mega grants. With indirect
costs there is pressure on the faculty to bring large amounts of money. A
scientist with important papers but little money is perceived as inferior
to a scientist with large grants but no important papers. Intense
competition for grants causes groups to create infrastructure for success,
and panel members are not immune to such groups. Individual scientists
become cynical as they see efforts to obtain funding more important than
accomplishing anything important.

Mega grants starve funding for individual scientists. These grants force
junior scientists to join successful teams, which may be led by de-facto
politicians than scientists. The price of joining may be conformity,
something
opposite of what is expected from a scientist. 

Funding problems are clearly different in different areas.They are less
likely to occur in areas of more exact science (e.g., physics or
engineering) where mediocre grant applications are easily identifiable. My
few friends in biology, physics and chemistry seem happy with the grant
system.

Ignacy Misztal Animal and Dairy Science, University of GA Athens GA 30602,
USA tel 706-542-0951 fax:706-583-0274 http://nce.ads.uga.edu/~ignacy


On Sep 30, 2011, at 2:39 AM, Daniel Gianola wrote:

Many of us surely feel that the current system is extraordinarily
inefficient and cumbersome. Hopefully, this article will catalyze some
action on out part.

Daniel 

-------------------------------------------------------------
Q&A: Overhaul the Funding System 

Can science step in to find the best ways of allocating money for research? 

By Kerry Grens | September 28, 2011

It's a perennial complaint among scientists: grant writing takes up too
much time. "I think that there's pretty much wide agreement that scientists
have to spend a lot of time to write proposals, to review proposals, to
write progress reports, final reports, and do lots of things that are not
necessarily contributing to science," said John Ioannidis, a professor at
Stanford University's School of Medicine.

But it isn't just time that's spent unwisely, but billions and billions of
dollars that could be allocated in smarter ways, Ioannidis wrote in a
comment in today's Nature. The Scientist spoke with Ioannidis about his
ideas to fix science funding in the United States.

The Scientist: What are the current problems with the way science is funded
in America?

John Ioannidis: I think that the way that the funding system works, people
have to promise something that is exaggerated. They have to compete against
others who are promising something that would be spectacular, and therefore 
they need to make a huge claim that often they may not be able to deliver, 
just because of the odds of science. 

Or they have to promise something that would be highly predictable. It's
something that they may have already done or that they know what the answer
is going to be...  So in a sense I think the current system is almost
destroying the potential for innovative ideas and in many cases it even
fosters mediocrity.

TS: What's the best way to improve upon the current funding paradigm?

JI: What I advocated in that comment was we need to have some studies to
directly test, ideally in a randomized fashion, whether one strategy
performs better than another. One could think about pilot projects where
you have consenting scientists who say I'm willing to be randomized to
funding scheme A versus funding scheme B. A could be lottery allocation,
for example, and B could be merit-based. If we run these types of studies,
in a few years we can see what these scientists have done in the short
term. Maybe in the longer term we can also see whether their research
really made a difference. I'm in favor of experimenting, because we're
spending billions and billions of dollars and we're doing that with no good
evidence really.

TS: In your proposal for funding scientists according to merit, you mention
independent indices to measure a proposal's worth. What are some examples?

JI: I think that publications and citations should not be undervalued. They
could play a very important role in that assessment. But maybe combining
indices and paying attention to quality aspects other than quantity could
be informative. One could think of merging indices that exclude self-
citation or take into account the impact of papers rather than the amount 
of papers and adjust for co-authorship. There are indices to do that, and 
I think they can be objective if you combine them. 

On top of this we have the opportunity to build additional information into
the profile of an investigator based on scientific citizenship practices.
Things like sharing of data or protocols, and how often these data and
protocols are utilized by other researchers, how much do they contribute to
other aspects of improving science. 

I think it's an opportunity: if we really feel that some practices are
essential for science, and we want to improve these practices, then tying
them to the funding mechanism is really the prime way to make them happen.

TS: In this kind of scheme is seems like weight might be given to more
established scientists. What are ways to help younger faculty who don't
have such a track record?

JI: I would think that this is actually a problem of the current system,
rather than any proposal to create something new. The average age for an
investigator to get his first RO1 currently in the states is about 40 or 41
years old. People are going through 15 years of being active researchers,
and they still don't have independence. So I think that a system that is
based on merit could really get younger scientists on board much faster
than the current system.

Moreover, for example, if you use citation indices, you can always adjust
for the number of years that someone has been active. And there's some
evidence that the track record of some individuals could be identified from
fairly early in their careers.

I would also think that for young investigators it's probably okay to move
closer to the possibility of an egalitarian sharing, so give some
opportunity to lots of people early on for a few years and see what they can 
do. They will build a track record within a few years, and then you can 
start having some impact measures or citizenship practice measures. 

TS: How do we balance the interests of funding sure-bet science or
translational research versus very risky or basic science?

JI: This is not an easy question. I think people have a different perception
of what would be the appropriate allocation between these two strategies. It 
has to be a common consensus in the scientific community of what we really 
want to do. Currently I think innovative research is undervalued and not 
given enough opportunities to succe. 

J.P.A. Ioannidis, "Fund people not projects," Nature, 477:529-31, 2011.
 

-------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Daniel Gianola 
Sewall Wright Professor of Animal Breeding and Genetics 

Department of Animal Sciences Department of Biostatistics and Medical
Informatics Department of Dairy Science
--------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Department of Animal Sciences 
University of Wisconsin-Madison 
440 Animal Sciences Building 
1675 Observatory Dr. 
Madison WI 53706 
USA 

email: gianola@ansci.wisc.edu 
Telephone: 1-608-265-2054 Fax: 1-608-262-5157
http://www.ansci.wisc.edu/facstaff/Faculty/pages/gianola/index.html

"Nature is written in mathematical language" (Galileo Galilei). 
However, if nothing seems to work, try Bayes:

From igi2@cornell.edu  Sat Oct  1 22:25:50 2011
From: Ikhide Imumorin 
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper
Date: Sat, 01 Oct 2011 22:25:50 -0500

Dear Colleagues, Like many things in life, there are many sides to this
story. Institutions like mega grants because they get a lot of indirect
costs which help close budget gaps and contribute to running the
institutions including the mega salaries of administrators.

It is easy, although unfair for successfully funded scientists to label
those less successful as simply jealous for lack of similar success with
grants. I think one of the major issues is that scientific research has
become overly expensive. Let us take animal genomics, a field where most
people receiving this email work. The average cost for genotyping using say
50K SNP chip is about $150. To do a study that is adequately powered
requires several hundred samples. Add in the salary and benefits of a
postdoc or graduate student for 3 years to genotyping say 800 animals you
have close to $300,000 to do a project that will likely produce 1 - 2 good
manuscripts. That does not include indirect costs charged by your
institution. It means to do this study if funded externally, you need at
least a $400,000 grant. This is actually more than the average grant from
the USDA. How can such a study be done unless you win a large grant?

The biggest headaches for junior scientists in animal genomics now is the
fact that not only is USDA as a source of research funding basically broke,
but it never gave out large grants for the most part in the first place.
The average standard grant from the NIH, the RO1 is about $1.5 million over
4 years whereas it is 3 times smaller for the standard USDA grant over the
same period. In fact at many research intensive institutions, winning an
RO1 is a prerequisite for tenure and promotion to associate professor in
the life (biomedical) sciences, and a renewal of the RO1 is required for
promotion to full professor. We in agricultural research, especially animal
science have limited options. The NSF funds plant genomics but very little
animal genomics unless it is basic animal biology. Unless your work is
overtly biomedical, an animal scientist has no hope at the NIH. And USDA is
broke. Young scientists are therefore despondent these days.

In this modern age, important science is not cheap anymore, and unless one
is developing papers in theory and methodology where you need a PC, pad and
pencil and strong statistical and programming skills, it is hard to do
modern biological science without a lot of money. This is among the reasons
that junior scientists align themselves with and conform to where their
bread is being buttered. I believe it is called survival or self-
preservation.

Although part of the solution is re-aligning how funds are allocated, there
isn't enough money to go round. Many, many good proposals do not get funded
at all funding agencies. I had the privilege of serving on a USDA panel for
many years and was sad to see many good proposals go unfunded because there
simply isn't enough money to go round. We as a society need to decide what
our priorities are and how we allocate scarce resources. Unfortunately that
is where politics come in. Politics has been defined as the art of deciding
who gets what, when and how much. Our professional societies must be
politically active and contribute to the conversation in the public square
of why funding research is important and critical to the future of our
economic and technological well-being. No amount of complaints we make as
scientists will do much good. Then of course, scientists generally treat
politics with disdain and low regard, whereas politics and politicians
decide on how successful our work turns out to be by making spending
decisions!

Best wishes to everyone!

 
Ikhide Imumorin, PhD 
Assistant Professor 
Animal Breeding, Genetics and Genomics Group 
Dept of Animal Science 
267 Morrison Hall 
Cornell University 
Ithaca, NY 14853 
USA 
T 607-255-2850 
F 607-255-9829 
igi2@cornell.edu 

http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/faculty/imumorin.html

Associate Editor, Genomics and Quantitative Genetics 
- http://www.knoblauchpublishing.com 
Associate Editor, Journal of Applied Animal Research 
- http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/TAAR 
Review Editor, Frontiers in Genetics 
- http://www.frontiersin.org/genetics

________________________________________ 
.From: Ignacy Misztal [ignacy@uga.edu] 
.Sent: Saturday, October 01, 2011 12:14 AM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of 
.Subject: Re: On funding research- The Scientist on a Nature paper 

I am not sure that exagerration of potential results or inadequate assessment
of a scientist is a problem. After all, panelists on grant reviews know the 
reality and can adjust for it. 

The bigger problems could be indirect costs and mega grants. With indirect
costs there is pressure on the faculty to bring large amounts of money. A
scientist with important papers but little money is perceived as inferior
to a scientist with large grants but no important papers. Intense
competition for grants causes groups to create infrastructure for success,
and panel members are not immune to such groups. Individual scientists
become cynical as they see efforts to obtain funding more important than
accomplishing anything important.

Mega grants starve funding for individual scientists. These grants force
junior scientists to join successful teams, which may be led by de-facto
politicians than scientists. The price of joining may be conformity,
something
opposite of what is expected from a scientist. 

Funding problems are clearly different in different areas.They are less
likely to occur in areas of more exact science (e.g., physics or
engineering) where mediocre grant applications are easily identifiable. My
few friends in biology, physics and chemistry seem happy with the grant
system.

Ignacy Misztal Animal and Dairy Science, University of GA Athens GA 30602,
USA tel 706-542-0951 fax:706-583-0274 http://nce.ads.uga.edu/~ignacy


On Sep 30, 2011, at 2:39 AM, Daniel Gianola wrote:

Many of us surely feel that the current system is extraordinarily
inefficient and cumbersome. Hopefully, this article will catalyze some
action on out part.

Daniel 

-------------------------------------------------------------
Q&A: Overhaul the Funding System 

Can science step in to find the best ways of allocating money for research? 

By Kerry Grens | September 28, 2011

It's a perennial complaint among scientists: grant writing takes up too
much time. "I think that there's pretty much wide agreement that scientists
have to spend a lot of time to write proposals, to review proposals, to
write progress reports, final reports, and do lots of things that are not
necessarily contributing to science," said John Ioannidis, a professor at
Stanford University's School of Medicine.

But it isn't just time that's spent unwisely, but billions and billions of
dollars that could be allocated in smarter ways, Ioannidis wrote in a
comment in today's Nature. The Scientist spoke with Ioannidis about his
ideas to fix science funding in the United States.

The Scientist: What are the current problems with the way science is funded
in America?

John Ioannidis: I think that the way that the funding system works, people
have to promise something that is exaggerated. They have to compete against
others who are promising something that would be spectacular, and therefore 
they need to make a huge claim that often they may not be able to deliver, 
just because of the odds of science. 

Or they have to promise something that would be highly predictable. It's
something that they may have already done or that they know what the answer
is going to be...  So in a sense I think the current system is almost
destroying the potential for innovative ideas and in many cases it even
fosters mediocrity.

TS: What's the best way to improve upon the current funding paradigm?

JI: What I advocated in that comment was we need to have some studies to
directly test, ideally in a randomized fashion, whether one strategy
performs better than another. One could think about pilot projects where
you have consenting scientists who say I'm willing to be randomized to
funding scheme A versus funding scheme B. A could be lottery allocation,
for example, and B could be merit-based. If we run these types of studies,
in a few years we can see what these scientists have done in the short
term. Maybe in the longer term we can also see whether their research
really made a difference. I'm in favor of experimenting, because we're
spending billions and billions of dollars and we're doing that with no good
evidence really.

TS: In your proposal for funding scientists according to merit, you mention
independent indices to measure a proposal's worth. What are some examples?

JI: I think that publications and citations should not be undervalued. They
could play a very important role in that assessment. But maybe combining
indices and paying attention to quality aspects other than quantity could
be informative. One could think of merging indices that exclude self-
citation or take into account the impact of papers rather than the amount 
of papers and adjust for co-authorship. There are indices to do that, and 
I think they can be objective if you combine them. 

On top of this we have the opportunity to build additional information into
the profile of an investigator based on scientific citizenship practices.
Things like sharing of data or protocols, and how often these data and
protocols are utilized by other researchers, how much do they contribute to
other aspects of improving science. 

I think it's an opportunity: if we really feel that some practices are
essential for science, and we want to improve these practices, then tying
them to the funding mechanism is really the prime way to make them happen.

TS: In this kind of scheme is seems like weight might be given to more
established scientists. What are ways to help younger faculty who don't
have such a track record?

JI: I would think that this is actually a problem of the current system,
rather than any proposal to create something new. The average age for an
investigator to get his first RO1 currently in the states is about 40 or 41
years old. People are going through 15 years of being active researchers,
and they still don't have independence. So I think that a system that is
based on merit could really get younger scientists on board much faster
than the current system.

Moreover, for example, if you use citation indices, you can always adjust
for the number of years that someone has been active. And there's some
evidence that the track record of some individuals could be identified from
fairly early in their careers.

I would also think that for young investigators it's probably okay to move
closer to the possibility of an egalitarian sharing, so give some
opportunity to lots of people early on for a few years and see what they can 
do. They will build a track record within a few years, and then you can 
start having some impact measures or citizenship practice measures. 

TS: How do we balance the interests of funding sure-bet science or
translational research versus very risky or basic science?

JI: This is not an easy question. I think people have a different perception
of what would be the appropriate allocation between these two strategies. It 
has to be a common consensus in the scientific community of what we really 
want to do. Currently I think innovative research is undervalued and not 
given enough opportunities to succe. 

J.P.A. Ioannidis, "Fund people not projects," Nature, 477:529-31, 2011.
 

-------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Daniel Gianola 
Sewall Wright Professor of Animal Breeding and Genetics 

Department of Animal Sciences Department of Biostatistics and Medical
Informatics Department of Dairy Science
--------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Department of Animal Sciences 
University of Wisconsin-Madison 
440 Animal Sciences Building 
1675 Observatory Dr. 
Madison WI 53706 
USA 

email: gianola@ansci.wisc.edu 
Telephone: 1-608-265-2054 Fax: 1-608-262-5157
http://www.ansci.wisc.edu/facstaff/Faculty/pages/gianola/index.html

"Nature is written in mathematical language" (Galileo Galilei). 
However, if nothing seems to work, try Bayes:

From gianola@ansci.wisc.edu  Sun Oct  2 12:21:59 2011
From: Daniel Gianola 
Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Date: Sun, 02 Oct 2011 12:21:59 -0500

In my opinion, there an even more important problem: how efficient this
system is in generating basic and translational scientific knowledge. It
has been estimated that most scientists spend between 2-4 months per year
writing and reporting grants. Assuming that the probability of success is
0,25 (optimistic!), this would imply that at least 8 months of paper of
grant preparation and administration work are spent per successful
proposal.

Further, a considerable portion of the grant work includes "para-
scientific" issues, such as how students and post-docs are going to be
mentored (it is hard to be very creative on this, and most grant writers
simply paraphrase sections of successful grants), on methods for developing
and fostering diversity, etc. All this is very important, but it is not
obviously related to science, and granting agencies should assume that if
one, e.g., belongs to Cornell, Wisconsin, Purdue, etc. these institutions
have established policies to those effects.

Also, it is common that proposals with strong scientific ideas are defeated
by proposals with excellent cosmetic appeal. Everybody knows what
"grantsman (woman)ship" means...

Hence, we end up with an inefficient use of scientific human resources. I
have colleagues in medically related areas who spend ALL their time writing
grants, without time to think about new ideas, etc.

There is the view that our (US) current system is efficient in generating
new applications. It is not. The USA files 46 patents per million people,
while Sweden gets 100, Japan 107 and Switzerland 115 ("The Economist").

The article by Joannidis is refreshing, and we should try to mobilize to
make the current system better, lighter and less cumbersome. An intriguing
model is that of the MacArthur foundation: wide panels of scientists would
review candidates for funding based primarily on their ideas, potential and
past accomplishment based on....a 2 page document, plus a minimum amount of
supporting material.

I am sure that many ideas would emerge, and I do hope that we can succeed
in making the current system less burdensome on scientists, and more
efficient from the point of view of generating knowledge.

Daniel Gianola
________________________________________ 
.From: Ikhide Imumorin [igi2@cornell.edu] 
.Sent: Saturday, October 01, 2011 10:25 PM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of 
.Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a  Nature Paper 

 
Dear Colleagues, Like many things in life, there are many sides to this 
story. Institutions like mega grants because they get a lot of indirect 
costs which help close budget gaps and contribute to running the 
institutions including the mega salaries of administrators. 

It is easy, although unfair for successfully funded scientists to label
those less successful as simply jealous for lack of similar success with
grants. I think one of the major issues is that scientific research has
become overly expensive. Let us take animal genomics, a field where most
people receiving this email work. The average cost for genotyping using say
50K SNP chip is about $150. To do a study that is adequately powered
requires several hundred samples. Add in the salary and benefits of a
postdoc or graduate student for 3 years to genotyping say 800 animals you
have close to $300,000 to do a project that will likely produce 1 - 2 good
manuscripts. That does not include indirect costs charged by your
institution. It means to do this study if funded externally, you need at
least a $400,000 grant. This is actually more than the average grant from
the USDA. How can such a study be done unless you win a large grant?

The biggest headaches for junior scientists in animal genomics now is the
fact that not only is USDA as a source of research funding basically broke,
but it never gave out large grants for the most part in the first place.
The average standard grant from the NIH, the RO1 is about $1.5 million over
4 years whereas it is 3 times smaller for the standard USDA grant over the
same period. In fact at many research intensive institutions, winning an
RO1 is a prerequisite for tenure and promotion to associate professor in
the life (biomedical) sciences, and a renewal of the RO1 is required for
promotion to full professor. We in agricultural research, especially animal
science have limited options. The NSF funds plant genomics but very little
animal genomics unless it is basic animal biology. Unless your work is
overtly biomedical, an animal scientist has no hope at the NIH. And USDA is 
broke. Young scientists are therefore despondent these days. 

In this modern age, important science is not cheap anymore, and unless one
is developing papers in theory and methodology where you need a PC, pad and
pencil and strong statistical and programming skills, it is hard to do
modern biological science without a lot of money. This is among the reasons
that junior scientists align themselves with and conform to where their
bread is being buttered. I believe it is called survival or self-
preservation.

Although part of the solution is re-aligning how funds are allocated, there
isn't enough money to go round. Many, many good proposals do not get funded
at all funding agencies. I had the privilege of serving on a USDA panel for
many years and was sad to see many good proposals go unfunded because there
simply isn't enough money to go round. We as a society need to decide what
our priorities are and how we allocate scarce resources. Unfortunately that 
is where politics come in. Politics has been defined as the art of deciding 
who gets what, when and how much. Our professional societies must be 
politically active and contribute to the conversation in the public square 
of why funding research is important and critical to the future of our 
economic and technological well-being. No amount of complaints we make as 
scientists will do much good. Then of course, scientists generally treat 
politics with disdain and low regard, whereas politics and politicians 
decide on how successful our work turns out to be by making spending 
decisions! 

Best wishes to everyone!

 
Ikhide Imumorin, PhD 
Assistant Professor 
Animal Breeding, Genetics and Genomics Group 
Dept of Animal Science 
267 Morrison Hall 
Cornell University 
Ithaca, NY 14853 
USA 
T 607-255-2850 
F 607-255-9829 
igi2@cornell.edu 

http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/faculty/imumorin.html

Associate Editor, Genomics and Quantitative Genetics -
http://www.knoblauchpublishing.com Associate Editor, Journal of Applied
Animal Research - http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/TAAR Review Editor,
Frontiers in Genetics - http://www.frontiersin.org/genetics

 

 

 
________________________________________ 
.From: Ignacy Misztal [ignacy@uga.edu] 
.Sent: Saturday, October 01, 2011 12:14 AM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of 
.Subject: Re: On funding research- The Scientist on a Nature paper 

 
I am not sure that exaggeration of potential results or inadequate 
assessment of a scientist is a problem. After all, panelists on grant reviews 
know the 
reality and can adjust for it. 

The bigger problems could be indirect costs and mega grants. With indirect
costs there is pressure on the faculty to bring large amounts of money. A
scientist with important papers but little money is perceived as inferior
to a scientist with large grants but no important papers. Intense
competition for grants causes groups to create infrastructure for success,
and panel members are not immune to such groups. Individual scientists
become cynical as they see efforts to obtain funding more important than
accomplishing anything important.

Mega grants starve funding for individual scientists. These grants force
junior scientists to join successful teams, which may be led by de-facto
politicians than scientists. The price of joining may be conformity,
something opposite of what is expected from a scientist.

Funding problems are clearly different in different areas.They are less
likely to occur in areas of more exact science (e.g., physics or
engineering) where mediocre grant applications are easily identifiable. My
few friends in biology, physics and chemistry seem happy with the grant
system.

Ignacy Misztal Animal and Dairy Science, University of GA Athens GA 30602,
USA tel 706-542-0951 fax:706-583-0274 http://nce.ads.uga.edu/~ignacy

 

 

On Sep 30, 2011, at 2:39 AM, Daniel Gianola wrote:

 Many of us surely feel that the current system is
extraordinarily inefficient and cumbersome. Hopefully, this article will
catalyze some action on out part. Daniel Q&A: Overhaul the Funding System

Can science step in to find the best ways of allocating money for research?

By Kerry Grens | September 28, 2011

 
Itís a perennial complaint among scientists: grant writing takes up too much 
time. ďI think that thereís pretty much wide agreement that scientists have 
to 
spend a lot of time to write proposals, to review proposals, to write 
progress 
reports, final reports, and do lots of things that are not necessarily 
contributing to science,Ē said John Ioannidis, a professor at Stanford 
Universityís School of Medicine. 

But it isnít just time thatís spent unwisely, but billions and billions of
dollars that could be allocated in smarter ways, Ioannidis wrote in a
comment in todayís Nature. The Scientist spoke with Ioannidis about his
ideas to fix science funding in the United States.

The Scientist: What are the current problems with the way science is funded
in America?

John Ioannidis:I think that the way that the funding system works, people
have to promise something that is exaggerated. They have to compete against
others who are promising something that would be spectacular, and therefore 
they need to make a huge claim that often they may not be able to deliver, 
just because 
of the odds of science. 

Or they have to promise something that would be highly predictable. Itís
something that they may have already done or that they know what the answer
is going to beÖSo in a sense I think the current system is almost
destroying the potential for innovative ideas and in many cases it even
fosters mediocrity.

TS: Whatís the best way to improve upon the current funding paradigm?

JI: What I advocated in that comment was we need to have some studies to
directly test, ideally in a randomized fashion, whether one strategy
performs better than another. One could think about pilot projects where
you have consenting scientists who say Iím willing to be randomized to
funding scheme A versus funding scheme B. A could be lottery allocation,
for example, and B could be merit-based. If we run these types of studies,
in a few years we can see what these scientists have done in the short
term. Maybe in the longer term we can also see whether their research
really made a difference. Iím in favor of experimenting, because weíre
spending billions and billions of dollars and weíre doing that with no good
evidence really.

TS: In your proposal for funding scientists according to merit, you mention
independent indices to measure a proposalís worth. What are some examples?

JI: I think that publications and citations should not be undervalued. They
could play a very important role in that assessment. But maybe combining
indices and paying attention to quality aspects other than quantity could
be informative. One could think of merging indices that exclude self-
citation or take into account the impact of papers rather than the amount
of papers and adjust for co-authorship. There are indices to do that, and I 
think they can be objective if you combine them. 

On top of this we have the opportunity to build additional information into
the profile of an investigator based on scientific citizenship practices.
Things like sharing of data or protocols, and how often these data and
protocols are utilized by other researchers, how much do they contribute to
other aspects of improving science. 

I think itís an opportunity: if we really feel that some practices are
essential for science, and we want to improve these practices, then tying
them to the funding mechanism is really the prime way to make them happen.

TS: In this kind of scheme is seems like weight might be given to more
established scientists. What are ways to help younger faculty who donít
have such a track record?

JI: I would think that this is actually a problem of the current system,
rather than any proposal to create something new. The average age for an
investigator to get his first RO1 currently in the states is about 40 or 41
years old. People are going through 15 years of being active researchers,
and they still donít have independence. So I think that a system that is
based on merit could really get younger scientists on board much faster
than the current system.

Moreover, for example, if you use citation indices, you can always adjust
for the number of years that someone has been active. And thereís some
evidence that the track record of some individuals could be identified from
fairly early in their careers.

I would also think that for young investigators itís probably okay to move
closer to the possibility of an egalitarian sharing, so give some
opportunity to lots of people early on for a few years and see what they 
can do. They will build a track record within a few years, and then you can 
start having some impact measures or citizenship practice measures. 

TS: How do we balance the interests of funding sure-bet science or
translational research versus very risky or basic science?

JI: This is not an easy question. I think people have a different
perception
of what would be the appropriate allocation between these two strategies. It 
has to be a common consensus in the scientific community of what we really 
want to do. Currently I think innovative research is undervalued and not 
given 
enough opportunities to succe. 

J.P.A. Ioannidis, ďFund people not projects,Ē Nature, 477:529-31, 2011.

 
-------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Daniel Gianola 
Sewall Wright Professor of Animal Breeding and Genetics 

Department of Animal Sciences Department of Biostatistics and Medical
Informatics Department of Dairy Science

--------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Department of Animal Sciences 
University of Wisconsin-Madison 
440 Animal Sciences Building 
1675 Observatory Dr. 
Madison WI 53706 
USA 

email: gianola@ansci.wisc.edu Telephone: 1-
608-265-2054 Fax: 1-608-262-5157
http://www.ansci.wisc.edu/facstaff/Faculty/pages/gianola/index.html

"Nature is written in mathematical language" (Galileo Galilei). However, if
nothing seems to work, try Bayes:

 

 


From yda@umn.edu  Sun Oct  2 13:10:21 2011
From: "Yang Da" 
Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Date: Sun, 02 Oct 2011 13:10:21 -0500

I would raise a question about what USDA research should focus on. The
research focus of the past two funding cycles appears to be a huge
departure from the past. Childhood obesity should be a popular subject but
should that be addressed by NIH? Is the USDA research funding too small a
bucket of water for a huge fire? Climate change seems to require a global
effort but USDA is taking on that too, although climate change probably
could be considered as 'agriculture'.

Yang Da 
Department of Animal Science 
University of Minnesota

From schmidtc@UDel.Edu  Sun Oct  2 14:14:55 2011
Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper
From: Carl Schmidt 
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Date: Sun, 02 Oct 2011 14:14:55 -0500

> In my opinion, there an even more important problem: how efficient this 
> system is in generating basic and translational scientific knowledge. It 
> has been estimated that most scientists spend between 2-4 months per year 
> writing and reporting grants. Assuming that the probability of success is 
> 0,25 (optimistic!), this would imply that at least 8 months of paper of 
> grant preparation and administration work are spent per successful 
> proposal. 

One of the most important aspects of the job for scientists who have reached 
that stage of the career where they are writing grants, papers and reports is
--- writing grants, papers and reports.  Yes this takes a great deal of time, 
but almost any system for distributing money across a broad spectrum of 
individuals is going to require some form of both requesting support and 
accountability. 

 
> Further, a considerable portion of the grant work includes "para- 
> scientific" issues, such as how students and post-docs are going to be 
> mentored (it is hard to be very creative on this, and most grant writers 
> simply paraphrase sections of successful grants), on methods for developing 
> and fostering diversity, etc. All this is very important, but it is not 
> obviously related to science, and granting agencies should assume that if 
> one, e.g., belongs to Cornell, Wisconsin, Purdue, etc. these institutions 
> have established policies to those effects. 

Yes, this aspect of grant writing is a nuisance, and only reflects political 
and bureaucratic influences on 
the funding process.  The first time you see these requirements, they are 
annoying and you are correct in that  you keep recycling the same phrases. 
However, it does create an impetus to look outside your core group of 
collaborators and institutions to develop new collaborations. 

> Also, it is common that proposals with strong scientific ideas are defeated 
> by proposals with excellent cosmetic appeal. Everybody knows what 
> "grantsman (woman)ship" means... 
> 
Actually, what does it mean?  To me, successful grant writing means providing 
a coherent,  goal directed and plausible proposal. As my own mentor once 
commented, "you have to write the proposal for a reviewer who has just gotten 
to their stack of grants to review, it is 10PM at night, they just had a beer, 
and they absolutely do not feel like reviewing grants." 

There is no magic involved, for most of us it is just hard work. However,
there is a strong element of luck once you are capable of writing such
proposals.

 
> Hence, we end up with an inefficient use of scientific human resources. I 
> have colleagues in medically related areas who spend ALL their time writing 
> grants, without time to think about new ideas, etc. 

I find that writing grants is an incredible time for developing new ideas.
It provides for remarkable focus, bringing together your group's data and
ideas, reviewing it in the context current knowledge and synthesizing all
of this to propose a way forward. Frankly, when I forget the anxiety
associated with actually getting funded, I find grant writing invigorating.

>
> There is the view that our (US) current system is efficient in generating 
> new applications. It is not. The USA files 46 patents per million people, 
> while Sweden gets 100, Japan 107 and Switzerland 115 ("The Economist"). 

I think this observation is imposing too much of a business model on
science. Science is not business and it is arguable that attempting to
apply a business model to science would be a disaster. The majority of
patent applications should arise from industry. Perhaps the poor showing in
patents on the part of the US is not a reflection of scientific productivity 
but commercial productivity. 
> 
> The article by Joannidis is refreshing, and we should try to mobilize to 
> make the current system better, lighter and less cumbersome. An intriguing 
> model is that of the MacArthur foundation: wide panels of scientists would 
> review candidates for funding based primarily on their ideas, potential and 
> past accomplishment based on....a 2 page document, plus a minimum amount of 
> supporting material. 
Unfortunately, what this describes is a ... truncated grant proposal. 

>
> I am sure that many ideas would emerge, and I do hope that we can succeed 
> in making the current system less burdensome on scientists, and more 
> efficient from the point of view of generating knowledge. 

Having served on grant reviewing panels, the problem is really quite
simple: the US is simply not investing in science to support the shear
number of people who would like a career in basic research. On many review
panels, approximately half of the submitted grants are not fundable, mostly
because they don't actually fit the objectives of the agency, or they were
clearly written without new ideas. The panel can typically agree that ~ 1/3
of the total submitted should be funded, despite some individuals quibbling
about specific points in specific grants. Then the program coordinator
informs the group that the agency can only fund 1/10 to 1/5 of the
submitted proposals. There are many, many good proposals that do not get
funded, largely due to one simple thing: there is not enough money to go
around. Who gets funded then falls to who convinced the greatest number of
people on the review panel that their ideas are likely to provide
scientific progress.

I hate to put it in these terms, but I am not convinced that the system is
broken; rather there is simply declining interest on the part of the United
States to fund basic research.

Carl J. Schmidt 
Dept. of Animal and Food Sciences 
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716 
302-831-1334 
schmidtc@udel.edu

From m.fortes@uq.edu.au  Sun Oct  2 18:46:22 2011
From: Marina Fortes 
Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Date: Sun, 02 Oct 2011 18:46:22 -0500

Not very encouraging scenario for a young scientist, almost finishing the
PhD and in need of job like myself ... But, it is what I love doing and at
least that article created some discussion!

comics attached

________________________________________ 
.From: Carl Schmidt [schmidtc@UDel.Edu] 
.Sent: Monday, October 03, 2011 5:14 AM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of 
.Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a  Nature Paper 

> In my opinion, there an even more important problem: how efficient this 
> system is in generating basic and translational scientific knowledge. It 
> has been estimated that most scientists spend between 2-4 months per year 
> writing and reporting grants. Assuming that the probability of success is 
> 0,25 (optimistic!), this would imply that at least 8 months of paper of 
> grant preparation and administration work are spent per successful 
> proposal. 

One of the most important aspects of the job for scientists who have
reached that stage of the career where they are writing grants, papers and
reports is
--- writing grants, papers and reports.  Yes this takes a great deal of time, 
but almost any system for distributing money across a broad spectrum of 
individuals is going to require some form of both requesting support and 
accountability. 

 
> 
> Further, a considerable portion of the grant work includes "para- 
> scientific" issues, such as how students and post-docs are going to be 
> mentored (it is hard to be very creative on this, and most grant writers 
> simply paraphrase sections of successful grants), on methods for developing 
> and fostering diversity, etc. All this is very important, but it is not 
> obviously related to science, and granting agencies should assume that if 
> one, e.g., belongs to Cornell, Wisconsin, Purdue, etc. these institutions 
> have established policies to those effects. 
Yes, this aspect of grant writing is a nuisance, and only reflects political 
and bureaucratic influences on 
the funding process.  The first time you see these requirements, they are 
annoying and you are correct in that  you keep recycling the same phrases. 
However, it does create an impetus to look outside your core group of 
collaborators and institutions to develop new collaborations. 

>
> Also, it is common that proposals with strong scientific ideas are defeated 
> by proposals with excellent cosmetic appeal. Everybody knows what 
> "grantsman (woman)ship" means... 
> 
Actually, what does it mean?  To me, successful grant writing means providing 
a coherent,  goal directed and plausible proposal. As my own mentor once 
commented, "you have to write the proposal for a reviewer who has just gotten 
to their stack of grants to review, it is 10PM at night, they just had a 
beer, 
and they absolutely do not feel like reviewing grants." 

There is no magic involved, for most of us it is just hard work. However,
there is a strong element of luck once you are capable of writing such
proposals.

 
> Hence, we end up with an inefficient use of scientific human resources. I 
> have colleagues in medically related areas who spend ALL their time writing 
> grants, without time to think about new ideas, etc. 

I find that writing grants is an incredible time for developing new ideas.
It provides for remarkable focus, bringing together your group's data and
ideas, reviewing it in the context current knowledge and synthesizing all
of this to propose a way forward. Frankly, when I forget the anxiety 
associated with actually getting funded, I find grant writing invigorating. 

>
> There is the view that our (US) current system is efficient in generating 
> new applications. It is not. The USA files 46 patents per million people, 
> while Sweden gets 100, Japan 107 and Switzerland 115 ("The Economist"). 

I think this observation is imposing too much of a business model on
science. Science is not business and it is arguable that attempting to
apply a business model to science would be a disaster. The majority of
patent applications should arise from industry. Perhaps the poor showing in
patents on the part
of the US is not a reflection of scientific productivity but commercial 
productivity. 
> 
> The article by Joannidis is refreshing, and we should try to mobilize to 
> make the current system better, lighter and less cumbersome. An intriguing 
> model is that of the MacArthur foundation: wide panels of scientists would 
> review candidates for funding based primarily on their ideas, potential and 
> past accomplishment based on....a 2 page document, plus a minimum amount of 
> supporting material. 
Unfortunately, what this describes is a ... truncated grant proposal. 

>
> I am sure that many ideas would emerge, and I do hope that we can succeed 
> in making the current system less burdensome on scientists, and more 
> efficient from the point of view of generating knowledge. 

Having served on grant reviewing panels, the problem is really quite
simple: the US is simply not investing in science to support the shear
number of people who would like a career in basic research. On many review
panels, approximately half of the submitted grants are not fundable, mostly
because they don't actually fit the objectives of the agency, or they were
clearly written without new ideas. The panel can typically agree that ~ 1/3
of the total submitted should be funded, despite some individuals quibbling 
about specific points in specific grants. Then the program coordinator 
informs the group that the agency can only fund 1/10 to 1/5 of the 
submitted proposals. There are many, many good proposals that do not get 
funded, largely due to one simple thing: there is not enough money to go 
around. Who gets funded then falls to who convinced the greatest number of 
people on the review panel that their ideas are likely to provide 
scientific progress. 

I hate to put it in these terms, but I am not convinced that the system is
broken; rather there is simply declining interest on the part of the United
States to fund basic research.

Carl J. Schmidt 
Dept. of Animal and Food Sciences 
University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716 
302-831-1334 
schmidtc@udel.edu
 

> Daniel Gianola 
> ________________________________________ 
> .From: Ikhide Imumorin [igi2@cornell.edu] 
> .Sent: Saturday, October 01, 2011 10:25 PM 
> .To: Multiple Recipients of 
> .Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 
> 
> Dear Colleagues, Like many things in life, there are many sides to this 
> story. Institutions like mega grants because they get a lot of indirect 
> costs which help close budget gaps and contribute to running the 
> institutions including the mega salaries of administrators. 
> 
> It is easy, although unfair for successfully funded scientists to label 
> those less successful as simply jealous for lack of similar success with 
> grants. I think one of the major issues is that scientific research has 
> become overly expensive. Let us take animal genomics, a field where most 
> people receiving this email work. The average cost for genotyping using say 
> 50K SNP chip is about $150. To do a study that is adequately powered 
> requires several hundred samples. Add in the salary and benefits of a 
> postdoc or graduate student for 3 years to genotyping say 800 animals you 
> have close to $300,000 to do a project that will likely produce 1 - 2 good 
> manuscripts. That does not include indirect costs charged by your 
> institution. It means to do this study if funded externally, you need at 
> least a $400,000 grant. This is actually more than the average grant from 
> the USDA. How can such a study be done unless you win a large grant? 
> 
> The biggest headaches for junior scientists in animal genomics now is the 
> fact that not only is USDA as a source of research funding basically broke, 
> but it never gave out large grants for the most part in the first place. 
> The average standard grant from the NIH, the RO1 is about $1.5 million over 
> 4 years whereas it is 3 times smaller for the standard USDA grant over the 
> same period. In fact at many research intensive institutions, winning an 
> RO1 is a prerequisite for tenure and promotion to associate professor in 
> the life (biomedical) sciences, and a renewal of the RO1 is required for 
> promotion to full professor. We in agricultural research, especially animal 
> science have limited options. The NSF funds plant genomics but very little 
> animal genomics unless it is basic animal biology. Unless your work is 
> overtly biomedical, an animal scientist has no hope at the NIH. And USDA is 
> broke. Young scientists are therefore despondent these days. 
> 
> In this modern age, important science is not cheap anymore, and unless one 
> is developing papers in theory and methodology where you need a PC, pad and 
> pencil and strong statistical and programming skills, it is hard to do 
> modern biological science without a lot of money. This is among the reasons 
> that junior scientists align themselves with and conform to where their 
> bread is being buttered. I believe it is called survival or self- 
> preservation. 
> 
> Although part of the solution is re-aligning how funds are allocated, there 
> isn't enough money to go round. Many, many good proposals do not get funded 
> at all funding agencies. I had the privilege of serving on a USDA panel for 
> many years and was sad to see many good proposals go unfunded because there 
> simply isn't enough money to go round. We as a society need to decide what 
> our priorities are and how we allocate scarce resources. Unfortunately that 
> is where politics come in. Politics has been defined as the art of deciding 
> who gets what, when and how much. Our professional societies must be 
> politically active and contribute to the conversation in the public square 
> of why funding research is important and critical to the future of our 
> economic and technological well-being. No amount of complaints we make as 
> scientists will do much good. Then of course, scientists generally treat 
> politics with disdain and low regard, whereas politics and politicians 
> decide on how successful our work turns out to be by making spending 
> decisions! 
> 
> Best wishes to everyone! 
> 
> 
> Ikhide Imumorin, PhD 
> Assistant Professor 
> Animal Breeding, Genetics and Genomics Group 
> Dept of Animal Science 
> 267 Morrison Hall 
> Cornell University 
> Ithaca, NY 14853 
> USA 
> T 607-255-2850 
> F 607-255-9829 
> igi2@cornell.edu 
> 
> http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/faculty/imumorin.html 
> 
> Associate Editor, Genomics and Quantitative Genetics - 
> http://www.knoblauchpublishing.com Associate Editor, Journal of Applied 
> Animal Research - http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/TAAR Review Editor, 
> Frontiers in Genetics - http://www.frontiersin.org/genetics 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> ________________________________________ 
> .From: Ignacy Misztal [ignacy@uga.edu] 
> .Sent: Saturday, October 01, 2011 12:14 AM 
> .To: Multiple Recipients of 
> .Subject: Re: On funding research- The Scientist on a Nature paper 
> 
> I am not sure that exaggeration of potential results or inadequate 
> assessment of a scientist is a problem. After all, panelists on grant reviews 
> know the reality and can adjust for it. 
> 
> The bigger problems could be indirect costs and mega grants. With indirect 
> costs there is pressure on the faculty to bring large amounts of money. A 
> scientist with important papers but little money is perceived as inferior 
> to a scientist with large grants but no important papers. Intense 
> competition for grants causes groups to create infrastructure for success, 
> and panel members are not immune to such groups. Individual scientists 
> become cynical as they see efforts to obtain funding more important than 
> accomplishing anything important. 
> 
> Mega grants starve funding for individual scientists. These grants force 
> junior scientists to join successful teams, which may be led by de-facto 
> politicians than scientists. The price of joining may be conformity, 
> something opposite of what is expected from a scientist. 
> 
> Funding problems are clearly different in different areas.They are less 
> likely to occur in areas of more exact science (e.g., physics or 
> engineering) where mediocre grant applications are easily identifiable. My 
> few friends in biology, physics and chemistry seem happy with the grant 
> system. 
> 
> Ignacy Misztal 
> Animal and Dairy Science, 
> University of GA 
> Athens GA 30602, 
> USA 
> tel 706-542-0951 
> fax:706-583-0274 
> http://nce.ads.uga.edu/~ignacy 
From Ross.Tellam@csiro.au  Sun Oct  2 22:39:00 2011
From: 
Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Date: Sun, 02 Oct 2011 22:39:00 -0500

Hi Ikhide, 
I thought that I would add that there are huge databases of
genomic results (usually publically available after primary publication),
which in my view are quite under-analysed. This is a great opportunity.

Cheers 
Ross

 
________________________________________ 
.From: Ikhide Imumorin [igi2@cornell.edu] 
.Sent: Sunday, 2 October 2011 2:25 PM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of 
.Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a  Nature 
Paper 

 
Dear Colleagues, Like many things in life, there are many sides to this 
story. Institutions like mega grants because they get a lot of indirect 
costs which help close budget gaps and contribute to running the 
institutions including the mega salaries of administrators. 

It is easy, although unfair for successfully funded scientists to label
those less successful as simply jealous for lack of similar success with
grants. I think one of the major issues is that scientific research has
become overly expensive. Let us take animal genomics, a field where most
people receiving this email work. The average cost for genotyping using say
50K SNP chip is about $150. To do a study that is adequately powered
requires several hundred samples. Add in the salary and benefits of a
postdoc or graduate student for 3 years to genotyping say 800 animals you
have close to $300,000 to do a project that will likely produce 1 - 2 good
manuscripts. That does not include indirect costs charged by your
institution. It means to do this study if funded externally, you need at
least a $400,000 grant. This is actually more than the average grant from
the USDA. How can such a study be done unless you win a large grant?

The biggest headaches for junior scientists in animal genomics now is the
fact that not only is USDA as a source of research funding basically broke,
but it never gave out large grants for the most part in the first place.
The average standard grant from the NIH, the RO1 is about $1.5 million over
4 years whereas it is 3 times smaller for the standard USDA grant over the
same period. In fact at many research intensive institutions, winning an
RO1 is a prerequisite for tenure and promotion to associate professor in
the life (biomedical) sciences, and a renewal of the RO1 is required for
promotion to full professor. We in agricultural research, especially animal
science have limited options. The NSF funds plant genomics but very little
animal genomics unless it is basic animal biology. Unless your work is
overtly biomedical, an animal scientist has no hope at the NIH. And USDA is 
broke. Young scientists are therefore despondent these days. 

In this modern age, important science is not cheap anymore, and unless one
is developing papers in theory and methodology where you need a PC, pad and
pencil and strong statistical and programming skills, it is hard to do
modern biological science without a lot of money. This is among the reasons
that junior scientists align themselves with and conform to where their
bread is being buttered. I believe it is called survival or self-
preservation.

Although part of the solution is re-aligning how funds are allocated, there
isn't enough money to go round. Many, many good proposals do not get funded
at all funding agencies. I had the privilege of serving on a USDA panel for
many years and was sad to see many good proposals go unfunded because there
simply isn't enough money to go round. We as a society need to decide what
our priorities are and how we allocate scarce resources. Unfortunately that 
is where politics come in. Politics has been defined as the art of deciding 
who gets what, when and how much. Our professional societies must be 
politically active and contribute to the conversation in the public square 
of why funding research is important and critical to the future of our 
economic and technological well-being. No amount of complaints we make as 
scientists will do much good. Then of course, scientists generally treat 
politics with disdain and low regard, whereas politics and politicians 
decide on how successful our work turns out to be by making spending 
decisions! 

Best wishes to everyone!

 
Ikhide Imumorin, PhD 
Assistant Professor 
Animal Breeding, Genetics and Genomics Group 
Dept of Animal Science 
267 Morrison Hall 
Cornell University 
Ithaca, NY 14853 
USA 
T 607-255-2850 
F 607-255-9829 
igi2@cornell.edu 

http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/faculty/imumorin.html

Associate Editor, Genomics and Quantitative Genetics -
http://www.knoblauchpublishing.com Associate Editor, Journal of Applied
Animal Research - http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/TAAR Review Editor,
Frontiers in Genetics - http://www.frontiersin.org/genetics

 

 

 
________________________________________ 
.From: Ignacy Misztal [ignacy@uga.edu] 
.Sent: Saturday, October 01, 2011 12:14 AM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of 
.Subject: Re: On funding research- The Scientist on a Nature paper 
 
I am not sure that exaggeration of potential results or inadequate 
assessment of a scientist is a problem. After all, panelists on grant reviews 
know the reality and can adjust for it. 

The bigger problems could be indirect costs and mega grants. With indirect
costs there is pressure on the faculty to bring large amounts of money. A
scientist with important papers but little money is perceived as inferior
to a scientist with large grants but no important papers. Intense
competition for grants causes groups to create infrastructure for success,
and panel members are not immune to such groups. Individual scientists
become cynical as they see efforts to obtain funding more important than
accomplishing anything important.

Mega grants starve funding for individual scientists. These grants force
junior scientists to join successful teams, which may be led by de-facto
politicians than scientists. The price of joining may be conformity,
something opposite of what is expected from a scientist.

Funding problems are clearly different in different areas.They are less
likely to occur in areas of more exact science (e.g., physics or
engineering) where mediocre grant applications are easily identifiable. My
few friends in biology, physics and chemistry seem happy with the grant
system.

Ignacy Misztal 
Animal and Dairy Science, 
University of GA 
Athens GA 30602,
USA 
tel 706-542-0951 
fax:706-583-0274 
http://nce.ads.uga.edu/~ignacy

From dr.akin.pala@gmail.com  Mon Oct  3 02:48:40 2011
From: Akin Pala 
Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Date: Mon, 03 Oct 2011 02:48:40 -0500

Hi all, 

I find that EU strategy department is mostly interested in the impact
of the research. They found out that large collaborations with huge 
budgets had more impact compared with small budget projects and they 
are preparing to encourage scientists in Europe to join such large 
budget efforts in the upcoming 8th Framework program. That means more 
funding for established groups with previous accomplishments and huge 
budgets. The trouble is, it is harder to convince people that novel 
ideas are worth the try, while small improvements on established 
research seem like a sure shot. This is especially true when big 
budgets are concerned. You do not want to blow your big budget on an 
idea that may or may not succeed. That seemingly crazy idea may be the 
next ground breaker but you do not fund it because it is too risky for 
your large budget. 

I believe in addition to large budget projects and their funding 
mechanism, there should be a fast funding, fast finishing, small 
budget research funding system that rewards very innovative ideas. 
This separate system should provide small budgets to seemingly crazier 
ideas with convincing arguments, and we may finally get those 
innovative and "thinking outside the box" research. Universities own 
funding may provide small budgets, but a separate national system set 
up especially for innovation would be more useful. 

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Akin Pala 
http://members.comu.edu.tr/akin/ 
Department Head of Animal Science 
Reviewer and rapporteur for the EU

 
On Mon, Oct 3, 2011 at 06:39,   wrote: 
 
> Hi Ikhide, 
> I thought that I would add that there are huge databases of 
> genomic results (usually publically available after primary publication), 
> which in my view are quite under-analysed. This is a great opportunity. 
> 
> Cheers 
> Ross 
> 
> 
> ________________________________________ 
> .From: Ikhide Imumorin [igi2@cornell.edu] 
> .Sent: Sunday, 2 October 2011 2:25 PM 
> .To: Multiple Recipients of 
> .Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 
> 
> Dear Colleagues, Like many things in life, there are many sides to this 
> story. Institutions like mega grants because they get a lot of indirect 
> costs which help close budget gaps and contribute to running the 
> institutions including the mega salaries of administrators. 
> 
> It is easy, although unfair for successfully funded scientists to label 
> those less successful as simply jealous for lack of similar success with 
> grants. I think one of the major issues is that scientific research has 
> become overly expensive. Let us take animal genomics, a field where most 
> people receiving this email work. The average cost for genotyping using say 
> 50K SNP chip is about $150. To do a study that is adequately powered 
> requires several hundred samples. Add in the salary and benefits of a 
> postdoc or graduate student for 3 years to genotyping say 800 animals you 
> have close to $300,000 to do a project that will likely produce 1 - 2 good 
> manuscripts. That does not include indirect costs charged by your 
> institution. It means to do this study if funded externally, you need at 
> least a $400,000 grant. This is actually more than the average grant from 
> the USDA. How can such a study be done unless you win a large grant? 
> 
> The biggest headaches for junior scientists in animal genomics now is the 
> fact that not only is USDA as a source of research funding basically broke, 
> but it never gave out large grants for the most part in the first place. 
> The average standard grant from the NIH, the RO1 is about $1.5 million over 
> 4 years whereas it is 3 times smaller for the standard USDA grant over the 
> same period. In fact at many research intensive institutions, winning an 
> RO1 is a prerequisite for tenure and promotion to associate professor in 
> the life (biomedical) sciences, and a renewal of the RO1 is required for 
> promotion to full professor. We in agricultural research, especially animal 
> science have limited options. The NSF funds plant genomics but very little 
> animal genomics unless it is basic animal biology. Unless your work is 
> overtly biomedical, an animal scientist has no hope at the NIH. And USDA is 
> broke. Young scientists are therefore despondent these days. 
> 
> In this modern age, important science is not cheap anymore, and unless one 
> is developing papers in theory and methodology where you need a PC, pad and 
> pencil and strong statistical and programming skills, it is hard to do 
> modern biological science without a lot of money. This is among the reasons 
> that junior scientists align themselves with and conform to where their 
> bread is being buttered. I believe it is called survival or self- 
> preservation. 
> 
> Although part of the solution is re-aligning how funds are allocated, there 
> isn't enough money to go round. Many, many good proposals do not get funded 
> at all funding agencies. I had the privilege of serving on a USDA panel for 
> many years and was sad to see many good proposals go unfunded because there 
> simply isn't enough money to go round. We as a society need to decide what 
> our priorities are and how we allocate scarce resources. Unfortunately that 
> is where politics come in. Politics has been defined as the art of deciding 
> who gets what, when and how much. Our professional societies must be 
> politically active and contribute to the conversation in the public square 
> of why funding research is important and critical to the future of our 
> economic and technological well-being. No amount of complaints we make as 
> scientists will do much good. Then of course, scientists generally treat 
> politics with disdain and low regard, whereas politics and politicians 
> decide on how successful our work turns out to be by making spending 
> decisions! 
> 
> Best wishes to everyone! 
> 
> 
> Ikhide Imumorin, PhD 
> Assistant Professor 
> Animal Breeding, Genetics and Genomics Group 
> Dept of Animal Science 
> 267 Morrison Hall 
> Cornell University 
> Ithaca, NY 14853 
> USA 
> T 607-255-2850 
> F 607-255-9829 
> igi2@cornell.edu 
> 
> http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/faculty/imumorin.html 
> 
> Associate Editor, Genomics and Quantitative Genetics - 
> http://www.knoblauchpublishing.com Associate Editor, Journal of Applied 
> Animal Research - http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/TAAR Review Editor, 
> Frontiers in Genetics - http://www.frontiersin.org/genetics 
> 
> 
> 
> ________________________________________ 
> .From: Ignacy Misztal [ignacy@uga.edu] 
> .Sent: Saturday, October 01, 2011 12:14 AM 
> .To: Multiple Recipients of 
> .Subject: Re: On funding research- The Scientist on a Nature paper 
> 
> I am not sure that exaggeration of potential results or inadequate 
> assessment of a scientist is a problem. After all, panelists on grant reviews 
> know the reality and can adjust for it. 
> 
> The bigger problems could be indirect costs and mega grants. With indirect 
> costs there is pressure on the faculty to bring large amounts of money. A 
> scientist with important papers but little money is perceived as inferior 
> to a scientist with large grants but no important papers. Intense 
> competition for grants causes groups to create infrastructure for success, 
> and panel members are not immune to such groups. Individual scientists 
> become cynical as they see efforts to obtain funding more important than 
> accomplishing anything important. 
> 
> Mega grants starve funding for individual scientists. These grants force 
> junior scientists to join successful teams, which may be led by de-facto 
> politicians than scientists. The price of joining may be conformity, 
> something opposite of what is expected from a scientist. 
> 
> Funding problems are clearly different in different areas.They are less 
> likely to occur in areas of more exact science (e.g., physics or 
> engineering) where mediocre grant applications are easily identifiable. My 
> few friends in biology, physics and chemistry seem happy with the grant 
> system. 
> 
> Ignacy Misztal 
> Animal and Dairy Science, 
> University of GA 
> Athens GA 30602, 
> USA 
> tel 706-542-0951 
> fax:706-583-0274 
> http://nce.ads.uga.edu/~ignacy 
> 
> 
> On Sep 30, 2011, at 2:39 AM, Daniel Gianola wrote: 
> 
> Many of us surely feel that the current system is extraordinarily
> inefficient and cumbersome. Hopefully, this article will catalyze some
> action on out part.
> 
> Daniel 
> 
> -------------------------------------------------------------
> Q&A: Overhaul the Funding System 
> 
> Can science step in to find the best ways of allocating money for research? 
> 
> By Kerry Grens | September 28, 2011
> 
> It's a perennial complaint among scientists: grant writing takes up too
> much time. "I think that there's pretty much wide agreement that scientists
> have to spend a lot of time to write proposals, to review proposals, to
> write progress reports, final reports, and do lots of things that are not
> necessarily contributing to science," said John Ioannidis, a professor at
> Stanford University's School of Medicine.
> 
> But it isn't just time that's spent unwisely, but billions and billions of
> dollars that could be allocated in smarter ways, Ioannidis wrote in a
> comment in today's Nature. The Scientist spoke with Ioannidis about his
> ideas to fix science funding in the United States.
> 
> The Scientist: What are the current problems with the way science is funded
> in America?
> 
> John Ioannidis: I think that the way that the funding system works, people
> have to promise something that is exaggerated. They have to compete against
> others who are promising something that would be spectacular, and therefore 
> they need to make a huge claim that often they may not be able to deliver, 
> just because of the odds of science. 
> 
> Or they have to promise something that would be highly predictable. It's
> something that they may have already done or that they know what the answer
> is going to be...  So in a sense I think the current system is almost
> destroying the potential for innovative ideas and in many cases it even
> fosters mediocrity.
> 
> TS: What's the best way to improve upon the current funding paradigm?
> 
> JI: What I advocated in that comment was we need to have some studies to
> directly test, ideally in a randomized fashion, whether one strategy
> performs better than another. One could think about pilot projects where
> you have consenting scientists who say I'm willing to be randomized to
> funding scheme A versus funding scheme B. A could be lottery allocation,
> for example, and B could be merit-based. If we run these types of studies,
> in a few years we can see what these scientists have done in the short
> term. Maybe in the longer term we can also see whether their research
> really made a difference. I'm in favor of experimenting, because we're
> spending billions and billions of dollars and we're doing that with no good
> evidence really.
> 
> TS: In your proposal for funding scientists according to merit, you mention
> independent indices to measure a proposal's worth. What are some examples?
> 
> JI: I think that publications and citations should not be undervalued. They
> could play a very important role in that assessment. But maybe combining
> indices and paying attention to quality aspects other than quantity could
> be informative. One could think of merging indices that exclude self-
> citation or take into account the impact of papers rather than the amount 
> of papers and adjust for co-authorship. There are indices to do that, and 
> I think they can be objective if you combine them. 
> 
> On top of this we have the opportunity to build additional information into
> the profile of an investigator based on scientific citizenship practices.
> Things like sharing of data or protocols, and how often these data and
> protocols are utilized by other researchers, how much do they contribute to
> other aspects of improving science. 
> 
> I think it's an opportunity: if we really feel that some practices are
> essential for science, and we want to improve these practices, then tying
> them to the funding mechanism is really the prime way to make them happen.
> 
> TS: In this kind of scheme is seems like weight might be given to more
> established scientists. What are ways to help younger faculty who don't
> have such a track record?
> 
> JI: I would think that this is actually a problem of the current system,
> rather than any proposal to create something new. The average age for an
> investigator to get his first RO1 currently in the states is about 40 or 41
> years old. People are going through 15 years of being active researchers,
> and they still don't have independence. So I think that a system that is
> based on merit could really get younger scientists on board much faster
> than the current system.
> 
> Moreover, for example, if you use citation indices, you can always adjust
> for the number of years that someone has been active. And there's some
> evidence that the track record of some individuals could be identified from
> fairly early in their careers.
> 
> I would also think that for young investigators it's probably okay to move
> closer to the possibility of an egalitarian sharing, so give some
> opportunity to lots of people early on for a few years and see what they can 
> do. They will build a track record within a few years, and then you can 
> start having some impact measures or citizenship practice measures. 
> 
> TS: How do we balance the interests of funding sure-bet science or
> translational research versus very risky or basic science?
> 
> JI: This is not an easy question. I think people have a different perception
> of what would be the appropriate allocation between these two strategies. It 
> has to be a common consensus in the scientific community of what we really 
> want to do. Currently I think innovative research is undervalued and not 
> given enough opportunities to succe. 
> 
> J.P.A. Ioannidis, "Fund people not projects," Nature, 477:529-31, 2011.
>  
> 
> -------------------------------------------------------------------- 
> Daniel Gianola 
> Sewall Wright Professor of Animal Breeding and Genetics 
> 
> Department of Animal Sciences Department of Biostatistics and Medical
> Informatics Department of Dairy Science
> --------------------------------------------------------------------- 
> Department of Animal Sciences 
> University of Wisconsin-Madison 
> 440 Animal Sciences Building 
> 1675 Observatory Dr. 
> Madison WI 53706 
> USA 
> 
> email: gianola@ansci.wisc.edu 
> Telephone: 1-608-265-2054 Fax: 1-608-262-5157
> http://www.ansci.wisc.edu/facstaff/Faculty/pages/gianola/index.html
> 
> "Nature is written in mathematical language" (Galileo Galilei). 
> However, if nothing seems to work, try Bayes:
 
From ahmadali@uvas.edu.pk  Mon Oct  3 03:11:54 2011
Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 
From: "Dr. Ahmad Ali" 
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Date: Mon, 03 Oct 2011 03:11:54 -0500

Reference to the ongoing discussions on funding issues for Animal Sciences,
I am wondering what could I say when I see myself and my fellow colleagues
in Pakistan literally struggling to even save their jobs in the present
dearth of funds both at the national and international levels. Coupled with
it are the difficulties that the junior scientists have to face simply to
run their funded projects successfully because of the severe lack of rapid
response supply chain for lab consumables and equipment as well as being at
disadvantaged for new fundings because they are junior!

Similarly acute shortage of innovative expertise to indetify and prioritise
the national demands to undertake research in Animal sciences, literally
there seems to be doom and gloom situation as to the future. Political
considerations off course are apart from it and more interestingly with
more and more competitiveness for publication of research work in quality
journals, animal scientists still have to experience disadvantage because
none of the Journals in Animal and Agricultural sciences can match the
impact factor of journals in Medicine and other areas. Well, this list can
go on and on however, I would ask my colleagues at the international level
to provide more opportunities of undertaking competitive science for
scientists from the developing countries to fill the widening gap of
knowledge and expertise between the two worlds and which becomes the major
cause of economic and political exploitation of people in the developing
countries

 

On 2 October 2011 08:25, Ikhide Imumorin  wrote:

> Dear Colleagues, Like many things in life, there are many sides to this 
> story. Institutions like mega grants because they get a lot of indirect 
> costs which help close budget gaps and contribute to running the 
> institutions including the mega salaries of administrators. 
> 
> It is easy, although unfair for successfully funded scientists to label 
> those less successful as simply jealous for lack of similar success with 
> grants. I think one of the major issues is that scientific research has 
> become overly expensive. Let us take animal genomics, a field where most 
> people receiving this email work. The average cost for genotyping using say 
> 50K SNP chip is about $150. To do a study that is adequately powered 
> requires several hundred samples. Add in the salary and benefits of a 
> postdoc or graduate student for 3 years to genotyping say 800 animals you 
> have close to $300,000 to do a project that will likely produce 1 - 2 good 
> manuscripts. That does not include indirect costs charged by your 
> institution. It means to do this study if funded externally, you need at 
> least a $400,000 grant. This is actually more than the average grant from 
> the USDA. How can such a study be done unless you win a large grant? 
> 
> The biggest headaches for junior scientists in animal genomics now is the 
> fact that not only is USDA as a source of research funding basically broke, 
> but it never gave out large grants for the most part in the first place. 
> The average standard grant from the NIH, the RO1 is about $1.5 million over 
> 4 years whereas it is 3 times smaller for the standard USDA grant over the 
> same period. In fact at many research intensive institutions, winning an 
> RO1 is a prerequisite for tenure and promotion to associate professor in 
> the life (biomedical) sciences, and a renewal of the RO1 is required for 
> promotion to full professor. We in agricultural research, especially animal 
> science have limited options. The NSF funds plant genomics but very little 
> animal genomics unless it is basic animal biology. Unless your work is 
> overtly biomedical, an animal scientist has no hope at the NIH. And USDA is 
> broke. Young scientists are therefore despondent these days. 
> 
> In this modern age, important science is not cheap anymore, and unless one 
> is developing papers in theory and methodology where you need a PC, pad and 
> pencil and strong statistical and programming skills, it is hard to do 
> modern biological science without a lot of money. This is among the reasons 
> that junior scientists align themselves with and conform to where their 
> bread is being buttered. I believe it is called survival or self- 
> preservation. 
> 
> Although part of the solution is re-aligning how funds are allocated, there 
> isn't enough money to go round. Many, many good proposals do not get funded 
> at all funding agencies. I had the privilege of serving on a USDA panel for 
> many years and was sad to see many good proposals go unfunded because there 
> simply isn't enough money to go round. We as a society need to decide what 
> our priorities are and how we allocate scarce resources. Unfortunately that 
> is where politics come in. Politics has been defined as the art of deciding 
> who gets what, when and how much. Our professional societies must be 
> politically active and contribute to the conversation in the public square 
> of why funding research is important and critical to the future of our 
> economic and technological well-being. No amount of complaints we make as 
> scientists will do much good. Then of course, scientists generally treat 
> politics with disdain and low regard, whereas politics and politicians 
> decide on how successful our work turns out to be by making spending 
> decisions! 
> 
> Best wishes to everyone! 
> 
> 
> Ikhide Imumorin, PhD 
> Assistant Professor 
> Animal Breeding, Genetics and Genomics Group 
> Dept of Animal Science 
> 267 Morrison Hall 
> Cornell University 
> Ithaca, NY 14853 
> USA 
> T 607-255-2850 
> F 607-255-9829 
> igi2@cornell.edu 
> 
> http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/faculty/imumorin.html 
> 
> Associate Editor, Genomics and Quantitative Genetics - 
> http://www.knoblauchpublishing.com Associate Editor, Journal of Applied 
> Animal Research - http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/TAAR Review Editor, 
> Frontiers in Genetics - http://www.frontiersin.org/genetics 
> 
> 
> ________________________________________ 
> .From: Ignacy Misztal [ignacy@uga.edu] 
> .Sent: Saturday, October 01, 2011 12:14 AM 
> .To: Multiple Recipients of 
> .Subject: Re: On funding research- The Scientist on a Nature paper 
> 
> I am not sure that exaggeration of potential results or inadequate 
> assessment of a scientist is a problem. After all, panelists on grant reviews 
> know the reality and can adjust for it. 
> 
> The bigger problems could be indirect costs and mega grants. With indirect 
> costs there is pressure on the faculty to bring large amounts of money. A 
> scientist with important papers but little money is perceived as inferior 
> to a scientist with large grants but no important papers. Intense 
> competition for grants causes groups to create infrastructure for success, 
> and panel members are not immune to such groups. Individual scientists 
> become cynical as they see efforts to obtain funding more important than 
> accomplishing anything important. 
> 
> Mega grants starve funding for individual scientists. These grants force 
> junior scientists to join successful teams, which may be led by de-facto 
> politicians than scientists. The price of joining may be conformity, 
> something opposite of what is expected from a scientist. 
> 
> Funding problems are clearly different in different areas.They are less 
> likely to occur in areas of more exact science (e.g., physics or 
> engineering) where mediocre grant applications are easily identifiable. My 
> few friends in biology, physics and chemistry seem happy with the grant 
> system. 
> 
> Ignacy Misztal Animal and Dairy Science, University of GA Athens GA 30602, 
> USA tel 706-542-0951 fax:706-583-0274 http://nce.ads.uga.edu/~ignacy 
> 
> 
> On Sep 30, 2011, at 2:39 AM, Daniel Gianola wrote: 
> 
> Many of us surely feel that the current system is extraordinarily
> inefficient and cumbersome. Hopefully, this article will catalyze some
> action on out part.
> 
> Daniel 
> 
> -------------------------------------------------------------
> Q&A: Overhaul the Funding System 
> 
> Can science step in to find the best ways of allocating money for research? 
> 
> By Kerry Grens | September 28, 2011
> 
> It's a perennial complaint among scientists: grant writing takes up too
> much time. "I think that there's pretty much wide agreement that scientists
> have to spend a lot of time to write proposals, to review proposals, to
> write progress reports, final reports, and do lots of things that are not
> necessarily contributing to science," said John Ioannidis, a professor at
> Stanford University's School of Medicine.
> 
> But it isn't just time that's spent unwisely, but billions and billions of
> dollars that could be allocated in smarter ways, Ioannidis wrote in a
> comment in today's Nature. The Scientist spoke with Ioannidis about his
> ideas to fix science funding in the United States.
> 
> The Scientist: What are the current problems with the way science is funded
> in America?
> 
> John Ioannidis: I think that the way that the funding system works, people
> have to promise something that is exaggerated. They have to compete against
> others who are promising something that would be spectacular, and therefore 
> they need to make a huge claim that often they may not be able to deliver, 
> just because of the odds of science. 
> 
> Or they have to promise something that would be highly predictable. It's
> something that they may have already done or that they know what the answer
> is going to be...  So in a sense I think the current system is almost
> destroying the potential for innovative ideas and in many cases it even
> fosters mediocrity.
> 
> TS: What's the best way to improve upon the current funding paradigm?
> 
> JI: What I advocated in that comment was we need to have some studies to
> directly test, ideally in a randomized fashion, whether one strategy
> performs better than another. One could think about pilot projects where
> you have consenting scientists who say I'm willing to be randomized to
> funding scheme A versus funding scheme B. A could be lottery allocation,
> for example, and B could be merit-based. If we run these types of studies,
> in a few years we can see what these scientists have done in the short
> term. Maybe in the longer term we can also see whether their research
> really made a difference. I'm in favor of experimenting, because we're
> spending billions and billions of dollars and we're doing that with no good
> evidence really.
> 
> TS: In your proposal for funding scientists according to merit, you mention
> independent indices to measure a proposal's worth. What are some examples?
> 
> JI: I think that publications and citations should not be undervalued. They
> could play a very important role in that assessment. But maybe combining
> indices and paying attention to quality aspects other than quantity could
> be informative. One could think of merging indices that exclude self-
> citation or take into account the impact of papers rather than the amount 
> of papers and adjust for co-authorship. There are indices to do that, and 
> I think they can be objective if you combine them. 
> 
> On top of this we have the opportunity to build additional information into
> the profile of an investigator based on scientific citizenship practices.
> Things like sharing of data or protocols, and how often these data and
> protocols are utilized by other researchers, how much do they contribute to
> other aspects of improving science. 
> 
> I think it's an opportunity: if we really feel that some practices are
> essential for science, and we want to improve these practices, then tying
> them to the funding mechanism is really the prime way to make them happen.
> 
> TS: In this kind of scheme is seems like weight might be given to more
> established scientists. What are ways to help younger faculty who don't
> have such a track record?
> 
> JI: I would think that this is actually a problem of the current system,
> rather than any proposal to create something new. The average age for an
> investigator to get his first RO1 currently in the states is about 40 or 41
> years old. People are going through 15 years of being active researchers,
> and they still don't have independence. So I think that a system that is
> based on merit could really get younger scientists on board much faster
> than the current system.
> 
> Moreover, for example, if you use citation indices, you can always adjust
> for the number of years that someone has been active. And there's some
> evidence that the track record of some individuals could be identified from
> fairly early in their careers.
> 
> I would also think that for young investigators it's probably okay to move
> closer to the possibility of an egalitarian sharing, so give some
> opportunity to lots of people early on for a few years and see what they can 
> do. They will build a track record within a few years, and then you can 
> start having some impact measures or citizenship practice measures. 
> 
> TS: How do we balance the interests of funding sure-bet science or
> translational research versus very risky or basic science?
> 
> JI: This is not an easy question. I think people have a different perception
> of what would be the appropriate allocation between these two strategies. It 
> has to be a common consensus in the scientific community of what we really 
> want to do. Currently I think innovative research is undervalued and not 
> given enough opportunities to succe. 
> 
> J.P.A. Ioannidis, "Fund people not projects," Nature, 477:529-31, 2011.
>  
> 
> -------------------------------------------------------------------- 
> Daniel Gianola 
> Sewall Wright Professor of Animal Breeding and Genetics 
> 
> Department of Animal Sciences Department of Biostatistics and Medical
> Informatics Department of Dairy Science
> --------------------------------------------------------------------- 
> Department of Animal Sciences 
> University of Wisconsin-Madison 
> 440 Animal Sciences Building 
> 1675 Observatory Dr. 
> Madison WI 53706 
> USA 
> 
> email: gianola@ansci.wisc.edu 
> Telephone: 1-608-265-2054 Fax: 1-608-262-5157
> http://www.ansci.wisc.edu/facstaff/Faculty/pages/gianola/index.html
> 
> "Nature is written in mathematical language" (Galileo Galilei). 
> However, if nothing seems to work, try Bayes:
 
From dodgson@msu.edu  Mon Oct  3 17:12:02 2011
From: Jerry Dodgson 
Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Date: Mon, 03 Oct 2011 17:12:02 -0500

Hi all,

Reflecting back on close to 40 years in the business now, I think it's true
that P.I.'s today spend significantly more time writing grant applications
in addition to all their other managerial duties, spokesperson
responsibilities, etc., leaving less time to actually DO science (either
physically or mentally). And, isn't this why most of us got into it in the
first place? Few of us really want to grow up and just be "project
managers" as in the real business world.

I don't think we actually spend more (or even as much) time PER application
(we used to actually have them typed), so we must be writing more of them.
Part of this is due to the lower success rate - part due to the
pressure/opportunity to write more applications. Prior to modern
recombinant DNA technology and now genomics, what one could legitimately
propose was very much restricted by what one could imagine actually
achieving. Doing real genetics/breeding has always been a slow process, and
it would have been foolish to suggest concurrent analysis of the expression
of every gene in the genome, for example. There were few really large labs
and not as much incentive to build one. One phenotype/gene at a time was
more than enough. Now, almost anyone can reasonably propose to accomplish
wonders with a few hundred more gene chips, access to an Illumina machine
and a good bioinformatics program. Furthermore, as already mentioned,
peer/tenure pressure is on to acquire more and more funds.

I think we can all agree that we'd like the funding pool to be larger, and
that whatever money there is should be parsed out by peer review. Given the
stakes involved, would we, as reviewers, be comfortable in doing so based
on a couple of pages and a good track record? Probably not, unless we were
more confident that the system could legitimately serve the needs of all,
or at least most, deserving scientists, rather than building a small number
of mega-labs (whose members had little chance to replicate the success of
their mentors). At least within NIFA-AFRI, peer review panels have the
majority of the clout and are rarely over-ruled by program managers. I do
think that, for the sake of the future, we need to put more of what limited
funds exist into single (or a few) investigator-initiated research, even if
the total funds per award cannot match those of NIH/NSF. I, for one, do not
believe the large consortia (e.g., CAP projects) are the most efficient use
of funds. Entrepreneurial scientists (especially the younger ones) will
continue to come up with new breakthroughs if we give them the chance both
with appropriate funding mechanisms and thoughtful and fair peer review. If
not, they will find a better way to make a living and more power to them.

Regards, 
Jerry

From gianola@ansci.wisc.edu  Mon Oct  3 18:12:05 2011
Return-Receipt-To: gianola@ansci.wisc.edu
Reply-To: gianola@ansci.wisc.edu
Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper
From: "Daniel Gianola" 
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Date: Mon, 03 Oct 2011 18:12:05 -0500

Jerry,

I agree with what most you wrote. On the 2-page thing: why does the
Macarthur foundation give 500k to awardees based on a brief nomination? Why
does a nomination to the USA Academy of Scienes require a minimal
narrative?

Would the quality of science and its translational effect be hampered by a
simpler, faster, system?

What is the current system rewarding? Why is it so difficult for young
scientists to have an impact?

As geneticists, we strive for early predictions. Does the current system
distinguish between a young investigator with enormous talent from a
talented grant writer, perhaps with less potential but with seductive
charm?

As to the idea that writing a grant helps to "coalesce" ideas (not your
statement), I would argue that a good scientist's first inclnbation is to
communicate results, as opposed to use what is essentially a bureacratic
process to get money to fund ideas that (quite often) the scientist knows
they work before writing a grant, although this is not a deterministic
relationship.

Many economists have estimated the returns from research. Can anybody
produce a quantitative estimate of the superiority of the returns of the
current systems versus some of the variations that Joannidis advocates?

The current system produced last year over 1 million refereed articles,
mostly funded by some agency. What proportion of this output is signal
versus entropic? Another problem here...

Cheers,

Daniel

-----Original Message----- 
.From: Jerry Dodgson  
.Date: Mon, 3 Oct 2011 17:12:02  
.To: Multiple Recipients of 
.Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 
 
Hi all, 

Reflecting back on close to 40 years in the business now, I think it's true
that P.I.'s today spend significantly more time writing grant applications
in addition to all their other managerial duties, spokesperson
responsibilities, etc., leaving less time to actually DO science (either
physically or mentally). And, isn't this why most of us got into it in the
first place? Few of us really want to grow up and just be "project
managers" as in the real business world.

I don't think we actually spend more (or even as much) time PER application
(we used to actually have them typed), so we must be writing more of them.
Part of this is due to the lower success rate - part due to the
pressure/opportunity to write more applications. Prior to modern
recombinant DNA technology and now genomics, what one could legitimately
propose was very much restricted by what one could imagine actually
achieving. Doing real genetics/breeding has always been a slow process, and
it would have been foolish to suggest concurrent analysis of the expression
of every gene in the genome, for example. There were few really large labs 
and not as much incentive to build one. One phenotype/gene at a time was 
more than enough. Now, almost anyone can reasonably propose to accomplish 
wonders with a few hundred more gene chips, access to an Illumina machine 
and a good bioinformatics program. Furthermore, as already mentioned, 
peer/tenure pressure is on to acquire more and more funds. 

I think we can all agree that we'd like the funding pool to be larger, and
that whatever money there is should be parsed out by peer review. Given the
stakes involved, would we, as reviewers, be comfortable in doing so based
on a couple of pages and a good track record? Probably not, unless we were 
more confident that the system could legitimately serve the needs of all, 
or at least most, deserving scientists, rather than building a small number 
of mega-labs (whose members had little chance to replicate the success of 
their mentors). At least within NIFA-AFRI, peer review panels have the 
majority of the clout and are rarely over-ruled by program managers. I do 
think that, for the sake of the future, we need to put more of what limited 
funds exist into single (or a few) investigator-initiated research, even if 
the total funds per award cannot match those of NIH/NSF. I, for one, do not 
believe the large consortia (e.g., CAP projects) are the most efficient use 
of funds. Entrepreneurial scientists (especially the younger ones) will 
continue to come up with new breakthroughs if we give them the chance both 
with appropriate funding mechanisms and thoughtful and fair peer review. If 
not, they will find a better way to make a living and more power to them. 

Regards, 
Jerry

From John.Cole@ARS.USDA.GOV  Tue Oct  4 07:22:59 2011
From: "Cole, John" 
Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Date: Tue, 04 Oct 2011 07:22:59 -0500

Dear Group-

For the sake of argument, suppose that we were in a position to propose a
new grant program, perhaps as a pilot. How would we structure it? Some
ideas:

- minimal application; 1-page bio, 1-page idea/proposal, 1-page budget 
- rapid turnaround (60 days? 
- panelists are identified when proposals are funded -- much easier than all 
of the conflict-of-interest hoops we currently jump through 
- moderate award -- $250 000 for a two-year project, renewable one time upon 
demonstration of substantial progress/results 
- 1-page annual progress report 
- all monies disbursed upfront, can be used for any legitimate expense, 
including travel, computers, and salary/overhead 
- cap overhead at 10%(our bosses would hate that) 
- any genotypes produced must be deposited in a public repository upon grant 
termination -- in animal genomics we waste too much money on duplicative 
genotyping 
- any IP produced must be licensed on a reasonable and non-discriminatory 
basis 
- resulting publications must be Open Access 
- what about an age/stage-of-career component to privilege younger 
scientists? 

The idea is to come up with a new model that can be tested, like Dan's
talking about. I think that it would be very interesting to let panels fund
projects with minimal formal guidelines, I.e., let them fund whatever
sounds interesting.

What does the group think? Good ideas? Poor ideas? Is something obvious is
missing? There is no point in recreating R01 grants, they already exist.
Let's share some new ideas.

Best,

John
-- 
Dr. John B. Cole, Research Geneticist (Animal) 
Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory, ARS, USDA 
Room 306, Bldg 005, BARC-West 
10300 Baltimore Avenue 
Beltsville, MD 20705-2350 

E-mail: john.cole@ars.usda.gov Phone: 301-504-8665 Cell: 301-213-7480 Fax:
301-504-8092

----- Original Message ----- 
.From: Daniel Gianola [mailto:gianola@ansci.wisc.edu] 
.Sent: Monday, October 03, 2011 06:12 PM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of  
.Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 
 
Jerry, 

I agree with what most you wrote. On the 2-page thing: why does the
Macarthur foundation give 500k to awardees based on a brief nomination? Why
does a nomination to the USA Academy of Scienes require a minimal
narrative?

Would the quality of science and its translational effect be hampered by a
simpler, faster, system?

What is the current system rewarding? Why is it so difficult for young
scientists to have an impact?

As geneticists, we strive for early predictions. Does the current system
distinguish between a young investigator with enormous talent from a
talented grant writer, perhaps with less potential but with seductive
charm?

As to the idea that writing a grant helps to "coalesce" ideas (not your
statement), I would argue that a good scientist's first inclnbation is to
communicate results, as opposed to use what is essentially a bureacratic
process to get money to fund ideas that (quite often) the scientist knows
they work before writing a grant, although this is not a deterministic
relationship.

Many economists have estimated the returns from research. Can anybody
produce a quantitative estimate of the superiority of the returns of the
current systems versus some of the variations that Joannidis advocates?

The current system produced last year over 1 million refereed articles,
mostly funded by some agency. What proportion of this output is signal
versus entropic? Another problem here...

Cheers,

Daniel

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

-----Original Message----- 
.From: Jerry Dodgson  
.Date: Mon, 3 Oct 2011 17:12:02 
.To: Multiple Recipients of 
.Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 
 
Hi all, 

Reflecting back on close to 40 years in the business now, I think it's true
that P.I.'s today spend significantly more time writing grant applications
in addition to all their other managerial duties, spokesperson
responsibilities, etc., leaving less time to actually DO science (either
physically or mentally). And, isn't this why most of us got into it in the
first place? Few of us really want to grow up and just be "project
managers" as in the real business world.

I don't think we actually spend more (or even as much) time PER application
(we used to actually have them typed), so we must be writing more of them.
Part of this is due to the lower success rate - part due to the
pressure/opportunity to write more applications. Prior to modern
recombinant DNA technology and now genomics, what one could legitimately
propose was very much restricted by what one could imagine actually
achieving. Doing real genetics/breeding has always been a slow process, and
it would have been foolish to suggest concurrent analysis of the expression
of every gene in the genome, for example. There were few really large labs 
and not as much incentive to build one. One phenotype/gene at a time was 
more than enough. Now, almost anyone can reasonably propose to accomplish 
wonders with a few hundred more gene chips, access to an Illumina machine 
and a good bioinformatics program. Furthermore, as already mentioned, 
peer/tenure pressure is on to acquire more and more funds. 

I think we can all agree that we'd like the funding pool to be larger, and
that whatever money there is should be parsed out by peer review. Given the
stakes involved, would we, as reviewers, be comfortable in doing so based
on a couple of pages and a good track record? Probably not, unless we were 
more confident that the system could legitimately serve the needs of all, 
or at least most, deserving scientists, rather than building a small number 
of mega-labs (whose members had little chance to replicate the success of 
their mentors). At least within NIFA-AFRI, peer review panels have the 
majority of the clout and are rarely over-ruled by program managers. I do 
think that, for the sake of the future, we need to put more of what limited 
funds exist into single (or a few) investigator-initiated research, even if 
the total funds per award cannot match those of NIH/NSF. I, for one, do not 
believe the large consortia (e.g., CAP projects) are the most efficient use 
of funds. Entrepreneurial scientists (especially the younger ones) will 
continue to come up with new breakthroughs if we give them the chance both 
with appropriate funding mechanisms and thoughtful and fair peer review. If 
not, they will find a better way to make a living and more power to them. 

Regards, Jerry

 

 

 


From taylorjerr@missouri.edu  Tue Oct  4 07:57:45 2011
From: "Taylor, Jerry F. (Animal Science)" 
Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Date: Tue, 04 Oct 2011 07:57:45 -0500

Good idea. But...

R01's already exist...but not for us.

capping overhead is not a good idea. We do this simply to maximize the
proportion of the small dollars that we recieve that goes into research.
However, in so doing, we rob our universities of the ability to support
vitally needed research infrastructures such as libraries, DNA Cores,
Bioinformatics Cores etc. It's not just paying for administrator's slaries.
In fact, they get paid even if no grants are brought in. So indirect really
is used to support our needs. I would propose the $250K budget as direct +
fiull indirect.

Jerry

________________________________________ 
.From: Cole, John [John.Cole@ARS.USDA.GOV] 
.Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 7:22 AM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of 
.Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 
 
Dear Group- 

For the sake of argument, suppose that we were in a position to propose a
new grant program, perhaps as a pilot. How would we structure it? Some
ideas:

- minimal application; 1-page bio, 1-page idea/proposal, 1-page budget 
- rapid turnaround (60 days? 
- panelists are identified when proposals are funded -- much easier than all 
of the conflict-of-interest hoops we currently jump through 
- moderate award -- $250 000 for a two-year project, renewable one time upon 
demonstration of substantial progress/results 
- 1-page annual progress report 
- all monies disbursed upfront, can be used for any legitimate expense, 
including travel, computers, and salary/overhead 
- cap overhead at 10%(our bosses would hate that) 
- any genotypes produced must be deposited in a public repository upon grant 
termination -- in animal genomics we waste too much money on duplicative 
genotyping 
- any IP produced must be licensed on a reasonable and non-discriminatory 
basis 
- resulting publications must be Open Access 
- what about an age/stage-of-career component to privilege younger 
scientists? 

The idea is to come up with a new model that can be tested, like Dan's
talking about. I think that it would be very interesting to let panels fund
projects with minimal formal guidelines, I.e., let them fund whatever
sounds interesting.

What does the group think? Good ideas? Poor ideas? Is something obvious is
missing? There is no point in recreating R01 grants, they already exist.
Let's share some new ideas.

Best,

John
-- 
Dr. John B. Cole, Research Geneticist (Animal) 
Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory, ARS, USDA 
Room 306, Bldg 005, BARC-West 
10300 Baltimore Avenue 
Beltsville, MD 20705-2350 

E-mail: john.cole@ars.usda.gov 
Phone: 301-504-8665 
Cell: 301-213-7480 
Fax: 301-504-8092

----- Original Message ----- 
.From: Daniel Gianola [mailto:gianola@ansci.wisc.edu] 
.Sent: Monday, October 03, 2011 06:12 PM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of  
.Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 

 
Jerry, 

I agree with what most you wrote. On the 2-page thing: why does the
Macarthur foundation give 500k to awardees based on a brief nomination? Why
does a nomination to the USA Academy of Scienes require a minimal
narrative?

Would the quality of science and its translational effect be hampered by a
simpler, faster, system?

What is the current system rewarding? Why is it so difficult for young
scientists to have an impact?

As geneticists, we strive for early predictions. Does the current system
distinguish between a young investigator with enormous talent from a
talented grant writer, perhaps with less potential but with seductive
charm?

As to the idea that writing a grant helps to "coalesce" ideas (not your
statement), I would argue that a good scientist's first inclnbation is to
communicate results, as opposed to use what is essentially a bureacratic
process to get money to fund ideas that (quite often) the scientist knows
they work before writing a grant, although this is not a deterministic
relationship.

Many economists have estimated the returns from research. Can anybody
produce a quantitative estimate of the superiority of the returns of the
current systems versus some of the variations that Joannidis advocates?

The current system produced last year over 1 million refereed articles,
mostly funded by some agency. What proportion of this output is signal
versus entropic? Another problem here...

Cheers,

Daniel


-----Original Message----- 
.From: Jerry Dodgson  
.Date: Mon, 3 Oct 2011 17:12:02 
.To: Multiple Recipients of 
.Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 
 
Hi all, 

Reflecting back on close to 40 years in the business now, I think it's true
that P.I.'s today spend significantly more time writing grant applications
in addition to all their other managerial duties, spokesperson
responsibilities, etc., leaving less time to actually DO science (either
physically or mentally). And, isn't this why most of us got into it in the
first place? Few of us really want to grow up and just be "project
managers" as in the real business world.

I don't think we actually spend more (or even as much) time PER application
(we used to actually have them typed), so we must be writing more of them.
Part of this is due to the lower success rate - part due to the
pressure/opportunity to write more applications. Prior to modern
recombinant DNA technology and now genomics, what one could legitimately
propose was very much restricted by what one could imagine actually
achieving. Doing real genetics/breeding has always been a slow process, and
it would have been foolish to suggest concurrent analysis of the expression
of every gene in the genome, for example. There were few really large labs 
and not as much incentive to build one. One phenotype/gene at a time was 
more than enough. Now, almost anyone can reasonably propose to accomplish 
wonders with a few hundred more gene chips, access to an Illumina machine 
and a good bioinformatics program. Furthermore, as already mentioned, 
peer/tenure pressure is on to acquire more and more funds. 

I think we can all agree that we'd like the funding pool to be larger, and
that whatever money there is should be parsed out by peer review. Given the
stakes involved, would we, as reviewers, be comfortable in doing so based
on a couple of pages and a good track record? Probably not, unless we were 
more confident that the system could legitimately serve the needs of all, 
or at least most, deserving scientists, rather than building a small number 
of mega-labs (whose members had little chance to replicate the success of 
their mentors). At least within NIFA-AFRI, peer review panels have the 
majority of the clout and are rarely over-ruled by program managers. I do 
think that, for the sake of the future, we need to put more of what limited 
funds exist into single (or a few) investigator-initiated research, even if 
the total funds per award cannot match those of NIH/NSF. I, for one, do not 
believe the large consortia (e.g., CAP projects) are the most efficient use 
of funds. Entrepreneurial scientists (especially the younger ones) will 
continue to come up with new breakthroughs if we give them the chance both 
with appropriate funding mechanisms and thoughtful and fair peer review. If 
not, they will find a better way to make a living and more power to them. 

Regards, Jerry

From taylorjerr@missouri.edu  Tue Oct  4 08:03:11 2011
From: "Taylor, Jerry F. (Animal Science)" 
Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Date: Tue, 04 Oct 2011 08:03:11 -0500

Let me make sure I made myself clear.

I propose that the grant funding program pay $250k per grant in direct and
in addition pay full indirect on top of that.

Jerry

________________________________________ 
.From: Taylor, Jerry F. (Animal Science) [taylorjerr@missouri.edu] 
.Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 7:57 AM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of 
.Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 
 
Good idea. But... 

R01's already exist...but not for us.

capping overhead is not a good idea. We do this simply to maximize the
proportion of the small dollars that we recieve that goes into research.
However, in so doing, we rob our universities of the ability to support
vitally needed research infrastructures such as libraries, DNA Cores,
Bioinformatics Cores etc. It's not just paying for administrator's slaries.
In fact, they get paid even if no grants are brought in. So indirect really
is used to support our needs. I would propose the $250K budget as direct +
fiull indirect.

Jerry

________________________________________ 
.From: Cole, John [John.Cole@ARS.USDA.GOV] 
.Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 7:22 AM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of 
.Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 

 
Dear Group- 

For the sake of argument, suppose that we were in a position to propose a
new grant program, perhaps as a pilot. How would we structure it? Some
ideas:

- minimal application; 1-page bio, 1-page idea/proposal, 1-page budget 
- rapid turnaround (60 days? 
- panelists are identified when proposals are funded -- much easier than all 
of the conflict-of-interest hoops we currently jump through 
- moderate award -- $250 000 for a two-year project, renewable one time upon 
demonstration of substantial progress/results 
- 1-page annual progress report 
- all monies disbursed upfront, can be used for any legitimate expense, 
including travel, computers, and salary/overhead 
- cap overhead at 10%(our bosses would hate that) 
- any genotypes produced must be deposited in a public repository upon grant 
termination -- in animal genomics we waste too much money on duplicative 
genotyping 
- any IP produced must be licensed on a reasonable and non-discriminatory 
basis 
- resulting publications must be Open Access 
- what about an age/stage-of-career component to privilege younger 
scientists? 

The idea is to come up with a new model that can be tested, like Dan's
talking about. I think that it would be very interesting to let panels fund
projects with minimal formal guidelines, I.e., let them fund whatever
sounds interesting.

What does the group think? Good ideas? Poor ideas? Is something obvious is
missing? There is no point in recreating R01 grants, they already exist.
Let's share some new ideas.

Best,

John
-- 
Dr. John B. Cole, Research Geneticist (Animal) 
Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory, ARS, USDA 
Room 306, Bldg 005, BARC-West 
10300 Baltimore Avenue 
Beltsville, MD 20705-2350 

E-mail: john.cole@ars.usda.gov Phone: 301-504-8665 Cell: 301-213-7480 Fax:
301-504-8092

----- Original Message ----- 
.From: Daniel Gianola [mailto:gianola@ansci.wisc.edu] 
.Sent: Monday, October 03, 2011 06:12 PM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of  
.Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 
 
Jerry, 

I agree with what most you wrote. On the 2-page thing: why does the
Macarthur foundation give 500k to awardees based on a brief nomination? Why
does a nomination to the USA Academy of Scienes require a minimal
narrative?

Would the quality of science and its translational effect be hampered by a
simpler, faster, system?

What is the current system rewarding? Why is it so difficult for young
scientists to have an impact?

As geneticists, we strive for early predictions. Does the current system
distinguish between a young investigator with enormous talent from a
talented grant writer, perhaps with less potential but with seductive
charm?

As to the idea that writing a grant helps to "coalesce" ideas (not your
statement), I would argue that a good scientist's first inclnbation is to
communicate results, as opposed to use what is essentially a bureacratic
process to get money to fund ideas that (quite often) the scientist knows
they work before writing a grant, although this is not a deterministic
relationship.

Many economists have estimated the returns from research. Can anybody
produce a quantitative estimate of the superiority of the returns of the
current systems versus some of the variations that Joannidis advocates?

The current system produced last year over 1 million refereed articles,
mostly funded by some agency. What proportion of this output is signal
versus entropic? Another problem here...

Cheers,

Daniel

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

-----Original Message----- 
.From: Jerry Dodgson  
.Date: Mon, 3 Oct 2011 17:12:02 
.To: Multiple Recipients of 
.Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 
 
Hi all, 

Reflecting back on close to 40 years in the business now, I think it's true
that P.I.'s today spend significantly more time writing grant applications
in addition to all their other managerial duties, spokesperson
responsibilities, etc., leaving less time to actually DO science (either
physically or mentally). And, isn't this why most of us got into it in the
first place? Few of us really want to grow up and just be "project
managers" as in the real business world.

I don't think we actually spend more (or even as much) time PER application
(we used to actually have them typed), so we must be writing more of them.
Part of this is due to the lower success rate - part due to the
pressure/opportunity to write more applications. Prior to modern
recombinant DNA technology and now genomics, what one could legitimately
propose was very much restricted by what one could imagine actually
achieving. Doing real genetics/breeding has always been a slow process, and
it would have been foolish to suggest concurrent analysis of the expression
of every gene in the genome, for example. There were few really large labs 
and not as much incentive to build one. One phenotype/gene at a time was 
more than enough. Now, almost anyone can reasonably propose to accomplish 
wonders with a few hundred more gene chips, access to an Illumina machine 
and a good bioinformatics program. Furthermore, as already mentioned, 
peer/tenure pressure is on to acquire more and more funds. 

I think we can all agree that we'd like the funding pool to be larger, and
that whatever money there is should be parsed out by peer review. Given the
stakes involved, would we, as reviewers, be comfortable in doing so based
on a couple of pages and a good track record? Probably not, unless we were 
more confident that the system could legitimately serve the needs of all, 
or at least most, deserving scientists, rather than building a small number 
of mega-labs (whose members had little chance to replicate the success of 
their mentors). At least within NIFA-AFRI, peer review panels have the 
majority of the clout and are rarely over-ruled by program managers. I do 
think that, for the sake of the future, we need to put more of what limited 
funds exist into single (or a few) investigator-initiated research, even if 
the total funds per award cannot match those of NIH/NSF. I, for one, do not 
believe the large consortia (e.g., CAP projects) are the most efficient use 
of funds. Entrepreneurial scientists (especially the younger ones) will 
continue to come up with new breakthroughs if we give them the chance both 
with appropriate funding mechanisms and thoughtful and fair peer review. If 
not, they will find a better way to make a living and more power to them. 

Regards, Jerry

From dr.akin.pala@gmail.com  Tue Oct  4 08:20:44 2011
From: Akin Pala 
Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Date: Tue, 04 Oct 2011 08:20:44 -0500

It would be nice if we had hard evidence that lets say, 4 projects with 250
000 dollar budgets each would have equal or higher total impact compared to
a million dollar project. It would be good enough to convince some policy
makers. I believe we can run some kind of analysis to reach a conclusion. I
will be in Brussels soon, if anybody is willing to carry the US side, I can
try some EU officials to get me access to European data. It does not have
to be animal genomics only, it could be a general impact analyses,
separated by lets say life sciences, environment, physics etc. I believe it
would make a good Nature article and would have the power to affect some
policy makers. Otherwise we will just be talking among
ourselves. 
If anyone is up for it, count me in. The more authors we have, the better :) 

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Akin Pala http://members.comu.edu.tr/akin/ Department Head
of Animal Science Reviewer and rapporteur for the EU

 
On Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 16:03, Taylor, Jerry F. (Animal Science) 
 wrote: 
> 
> Let me make sure I made myself clear. 
> 
> I propose that the grant funding program pay $250k per grant in direct and 
> in addition pay full indirect on top of that. 
> 
> Jerry 
> 
> ________________________________________ 
> .From: Taylor, Jerry F. (Animal Science) [taylorjerr@missouri.edu] 
> .Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 7:57 AM 
> .To: Multiple Recipients of 
> .Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a †Nature  Paper 
> 
> 
> Good idea. But... 
> 
> R01's already exist...but not for us. 
> 
> capping overhead is not a good idea. We do this simply to maximize the 
> proportion of the small dollars that we recieve that goes into research. 
> However, in so doing, we rob our universities of the ability to support 
> vitally needed research infrastructures such as libraries, DNA Cores, 
> Bioinformatics Cores etc. It's not just paying for administrator's slaries. 
> In fact, they get paid even if no grants are brought in. So indirect really 
> is used to support our needs. I would propose the $250K budget as direct + 
> fiull indirect. 
> 
> Jerry 
> 
> ________________________________________ 
> .From: Cole, John [John.Cole@ARS.USDA.GOV] 
> .Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 7:22 AM 
> .To: Multiple Recipients of 
> .Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 
> 
> Dear Group- 
> 
> For the sake of argument, suppose that we were in a position to propose a 
> new grant program, perhaps as a pilot. How would we structure it? Some 
> ideas: 
> 
> - minimal application; 1-page bio, 1-page idea/proposal, 1-page budget 
> - rapid turnaround (60 days? 
> - panelists are identified when proposals are funded -- much easier than all 
> of the conflict-of-interest hoops we currently jump through 
> - moderate award -- $250 000 for a two-year project, renewable one time upon 
> demonstration of substantial progress/results 
> - 1-page annual progress report 
> - all monies disbursed upfront, can be used for any legitimate expense, 
> including travel, computers, and salary/overhead 
> - cap overhead at 10%(our bosses would hate that) 
> - any genotypes produced must be deposited in a public repository upon grant 
> termination -- in animal genomics we waste too much money on duplicative 
> genotyping 
> - any IP produced must be licensed on a reasonable and non-discriminatory 
> basis 
> - resulting publications must be Open Access 
> - what about an age/stage-of-career component to privilege younger 
> scientists? 
> 
> The idea is to come up with a new model that can be tested, like Dan's 
> talking about. I think that it would be very interesting to let panels fund 
> projects with minimal formal guidelines, I.e., let them fund whatever 
> sounds interesting. 
> 
> What does the group think? Good ideas? Poor ideas? Is something obvious is 
> missing? There is no point in recreating R01 grants, they already exist. 
> Let's share some new ideas. 
> 
> Best, 
> 
> John 
> -- 
> Dr. John B. Cole, Research Geneticist (Animal) 
> Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory, ARS, USDA 
> Room 306, Bldg 005, BARC-West 
> 10300 Baltimore Avenue 
> Beltsville, MD 20705-2350 
> 
> E-mail: john.cole@ars.usda.gov Phone: 301-504-8665 Cell: 301-213-7480 Fax: 
> 301-504-8092 
> 
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> .From: Daniel Gianola [mailto:gianola@ansci.wisc.edu] 
> .Sent: Monday, October 03, 2011 06:12 PM 
> .To: Multiple Recipients of  
> .Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 
> 
> Jerry, 
> 
> I agree with what most you wrote. On the 2-page thing: why does the 
> Macarthur foundation give 500k to awardees based on a brief nomination? Why 
> does a nomination to the USA Academy of Scienes require a minimal 
> narrative? 
> 
> Would the quality of science and its translational effect be hampered by a 
> simpler, faster, system? 
> 
> What is the current system rewarding? Why is it so difficult for young 
> scientists to have an impact? 
> 
> As geneticists, we strive for early predictions. Does the current system 
> distinguish between a young investigator with enormous talent from a 
> talented grant writer, perhaps with less potential but with seductive 
> charm? 
> 
> As to the idea that writing a grant helps to "coalesce" ideas (not your 
> statement), I would argue that a good scientist's first inclnbation is to 
> communicate results, as opposed to use what is essentially a bureacratic 
> process to get money to fund ideas that (quite often) the scientist knows 
> they work before writing a grant, although this is not a deterministic 
> relationship. 
> 
> Many economists have estimated the returns from research. Can anybody 
> produce a quantitative estimate of the superiority of the returns of the 
> current systems versus some of the variations that Joannidis advocates? 
> 
> The current system produced last year over 1 million refereed articles, 
> mostly funded by some agency. What proportion of this output is signal 
> versus entropic? Another problem here... 
> 
> Cheers, 
> 
> Daniel 
> 
> Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry 
> 
> -----Original Message----- 
> .From: Jerry Dodgson  
> .Date: Mon, 3 Oct 2011 17:12:02 
> .To: Multiple Recipients of 
> .Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a †Nature Paper
> 
> 
> Hi all, 
> 
> Reflecting back on close to 40 years in the business now, I think it's true 
> that P.I.'s today spend significantly more time writing grant applications 
> in addition to all their other managerial duties, spokesperson 
> responsibilities, etc., leaving less time to actually DO science (either 
> physically or mentally). And, isn't this why most of us got into it in the 
> first place? Few of us really want to grow up and just be "project 
> managers" as in the real business world. 
> 
> I don't think we actually spend more (or even as much) time PER application 
> (we used to actually have them typed), so we must be writing more of them. 
> Part of this is due to the lower success rate - part due to the 
> pressure/opportunity to write more applications. Prior to modern 
> recombinant DNA technology and now genomics, what one could legitimately 
> propose was very much restricted by what one could imagine actually 
> achieving. Doing real genetics/breeding has always been a slow process, and 
> it would have been foolish to suggest concurrent analysis of the expression 
> of every gene in the genome, for example. There were few really large labs 
> and not as much incentive to build one. One phenotype/gene at a time was 
> more than enough. Now, almost anyone can reasonably propose to accomplish 
> wonders with a few hundred more gene chips, access to an Illumina machine 
> and a good bioinformatics program. Furthermore, as already mentioned, 
> peer/tenure pressure is on to acquire more and more funds. 
> 
> I think we can all agree that we'd like the funding pool to be larger, and 
> that whatever money there is should be parsed out by peer review. Given the 
> stakes involved, would we, as reviewers, be comfortable in doing so based 
> on a couple of pages and a good track record? Probably not, unless we were 
> more confident that the system could legitimately serve the needs of all, 
> or at least most, deserving scientists, rather than building a small number 
> of mega-labs (whose members had little chance to replicate the success of 
> their mentors). At least within NIFA-AFRI, peer review panels have the 
> majority of the clout and are rarely over-ruled by program managers. I do 
> think that, for the sake of the future, we need to put more of what limited 
> funds exist into single (or a few) investigator-initiated research, even if 
> the total funds per award cannot match those of NIH/NSF. I, for one, do not 
> believe the large consortia (e.g., CAP projects) are the most efficient use 
> of funds. Entrepreneurial scientists (especially the younger ones) will 
> continue to come up with new breakthroughs if we give them the chance both 
> with appropriate funding mechanisms and thoughtful and fair peer review. If 
> not, they will find a better way to make a living and more power to them. 
> 
> Regards, Jerry 
 
From John.Cole@ARS.USDA.GOV  Tue Oct  4 08:35:24 2011
From: "Cole, John" 
Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Date: Tue, 04 Oct 2011 08:35:24 -0500

Dear Akin-

That's not a bad idea, but is there consensus on how best to measure
impact? I could talk to some people on this end about gathering data.

John
-- 
Dr. John B. Cole, Research Geneticist (Animal) 
Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory, ARS, USDA 
Room 306, Bldg 005, BARC-West 
10300 Baltimore Avenue 
Beltsville, MD 20705-2350 

E-mail: john.cole@ars.usda.gov 
Phone: 301-504-8665 
Cell: 301-213-7480 
Fax: 301-504-8092

----- Original Message ----- 
.From: Akin Pala [mailto:dr.akin.pala@gmail.com] 
.Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 08:20 AM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of  
.Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 
 
It would be nice if we had hard evidence that lets say, 4 projects with 250 
000 dollar budgets each would have equal or higher total impact compared to 
a million dollar project. It would be good enough to convince some policy 
makers. I believe we can run some kind of analysis to reach a conclusion. I 
will be in Brussels soon, if anybody is willing to carry the US side, I can 
try some EU officials to get me access to European data. It does not have 
to be animal genomics only, it could be a general impact analyses, 
separated by lets say life sciences, environment, physics etc. I believe it 
would make a good Nature article and would have the power to affect some 
policy makers. Otherwise we will just be talking among 
ourselves. 
If anyone is up for it, count me in. The more authors we have, the better :) 

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Akin Pala http://members.comu.edu.tr/akin/ Department Head
of Animal Science Reviewer and rapporteur for the EU 

 
On Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 16:03, Taylor, Jerry F. (Animal Science) 
 wrote: 
> 
> Let me make sure I made myself clear. 
> 
> I propose that the grant funding program pay $250k per grant in direct and 
> in addition pay full indirect on top of that. 
> 
> Jerry 
> 
> ________________________________________ 
> .From: Taylor, Jerry F. (Animal Science) [taylorjerr@missouri.edu] 
> .Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 7:57 AM 
> .To: Multiple Recipients of 
> .Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a †Nature  Paper 
> 
> 
> Good idea. But... 
> 
> R01's already exist...but not for us. 
> 
> capping overhead is not a good idea. We do this simply to maximize the 
> proportion of the small dollars that we recieve that goes into research. 
> However, in so doing, we rob our universities of the ability to support 
> vitally needed research infrastructures such as libraries, DNA Cores, 
> Bioinformatics Cores etc. It's not just paying for administrator's slaries. 
> In fact, they get paid even if no grants are brought in. So indirect really 
> is used to support our needs. I would propose the $250K budget as direct + 
> fiull indirect. 
> 
> Jerry 
> 
> ________________________________________ 
> .From: Cole, John [John.Cole@ARS.USDA.GOV] 
> .Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 7:22 AM 
> .To: Multiple Recipients of 
> .Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 
> 
> 
> Dear Group- 
> 
> For the sake of argument, suppose that we were in a position to propose a 
> new grant program, perhaps as a pilot. How would we structure it? Some 
> ideas: 
> 
> - minimal application; 1-page bio, 1-page idea/proposal, 1-page budget 
> - rapid turnaround (60 days? 
> - panelists are identified when proposals are funded -- much easier than 
all 
> of the conflict-of-interest hoops we currently jump through 
> - moderate award -- $250 000 for a two-year project, renewable one time 
upon 
> demonstration of substantial progress/results 
> - 1-page annual progress report 
> - all monies disbursed upfront, can be used for any legitimate expense, 
> including travel, computers, and salary/overhead 
> - cap overhead at 10%(our bosses would hate that) 
> - any genotypes produced must be deposited in a public repository upon 
grant 
> termination -- in animal genomics we waste too much money on duplicative 
> genotyping 
> - any IP produced must be licensed on a reasonable and non-discriminatory 
> basis 
> - resulting publications must be Open Access 
> - what about an age/stage-of-career component to privilege younger 
> scientists? 
> 
> The idea is to come up with a new model that can be tested, like Dan's 
> talking about. I think that it would be very interesting to let panels fund 
> projects with minimal formal guidelines, I.e., let them fund whatever 
> sounds interesting. 
> 
> What does the group think? Good ideas? Poor ideas? Is something obvious is 
> missing? There is no point in recreating R01 grants, they already exist. 
> Let's share some new ideas. 
> 
> Best, 
> 
> John 
> -- 
> Dr. John B. Cole, Research Geneticist (Animal) 
> Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory, ARS, USDA 
> Room 306, Bldg 005, BARC-West 
> 10300 Baltimore Avenue 
> Beltsville, MD 20705-2350 
> 
> E-mail: john.cole@ars.usda.gov 
> Phone: 301-504-8665 
> Cell: 301-213-7480 
> Fax: 301-504-8092 
> 
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> .From: Daniel Gianola [mailto:gianola@ansci.wisc.edu] 
> .Sent: Monday, October 03, 2011 06:12 PM 
> .To: Multiple Recipients of  
> .Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 
> 
> 
> Jerry, 
> 
> I agree with what most you wrote. On the 2-page thing: why does the 
> Macarthur foundation give 500k to awardees based on a brief nomination? Why 
> does a nomination to the USA Academy of Scienes require a minimal 
> narrative? 
> 
> Would the quality of science and its translational effect be hampered by a 
> simpler, faster, system? 
> 
> What is the current system rewarding? Why is it so difficult for young 
> scientists to have an impact? 
> 
> As geneticists, we strive for early predictions. Does the current system 
> distinguish between a young investigator with enormous talent from a 
> talented grant writer, perhaps with less potential but with seductive 
> charm? 
> 
> As to the idea that writing a grant helps to "coalesce" ideas (not your 
> statement), I would argue that a good scientist's first inclnbation is to 
> communicate results, as opposed to use what is essentially a bureacratic 
> process to get money to fund ideas that (quite often) the scientist knows 
> they work before writing a grant, although this is not a deterministic 
> relationship. 
> 
> Many economists have estimated the returns from research. Can anybody 
> produce a quantitative estimate of the superiority of the returns of the 
> current systems versus some of the variations that Joannidis advocates? 
> 
> The current system produced last year over 1 million refereed articles, 
> mostly funded by some agency. What proportion of this output is signal 
> versus entropic? Another problem here... 
> 
> Cheers, 
> 
> Daniel 
> 
> Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry 
> 
> -----Original Message----- 
> .From: Jerry Dodgson  
> .Date: Mon, 3 Oct 2011 17:12:02 
> .To: Multiple Recipients of 
> .Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a † Nature Paper 
> 
> 
> Hi all, 
> 
> Reflecting back on close to 40 years in the business now, I think it's true 
> that P.I.'s today spend significantly more time writing grant applications 
> in addition to all their other managerial duties, spokesperson 
> responsibilities, etc., leaving less time to actually DO science (either 
> physically or mentally). And, isn't this why most of us got into it in the 
> first place? Few of us really want to grow up and just be "project 
> managers" as in the real business world. 
> 
> I don't think we actually spend more (or even as much) time PER application 
> (we used to actually have them typed), so we must be writing more of them. 
> Part of this is due to the lower success rate - part due to the 
> pressure/opportunity to write more applications. Prior to modern 
> recombinant DNA technology and now genomics, what one could legitimately 
> propose was very much restricted by what one could imagine actually 
> achieving. Doing real genetics/breeding has always been a slow process, and 
> it would have been foolish to suggest concurrent analysis of the expression 
> of every gene in the genome, for example. There were few really large labs 
> and not as much incentive to build one. One phenotype/gene at a time was 
> more than enough. Now, almost anyone can reasonably propose to accomplish 
> wonders with a few hundred more gene chips, access to an Illumina machine 
> and a good bioinformatics program. Furthermore, as already mentioned, 
> peer/tenure pressure is on to acquire more and more funds. 
> 
> I think we can all agree that we'd like the funding pool to be larger, and 
> that whatever money there is should be parsed out by peer review. Given the 
> stakes involved, would we, as reviewers, be comfortable in doing so based 
> on a couple of pages and a good track record? Probably not, unless we were 
> more confident that the system could legitimately serve the needs of all, 
> or at least most, deserving scientists, rather than building a small number 
> of mega-labs (whose members had little chance to replicate the success of 
> their mentors). At least within NIFA-AFRI, peer review panels have the 
> majority of the clout and are rarely over-ruled by program managers. I do 
> think that, for the sake of the future, we need to put more of what limited 
> funds exist into single (or a few) investigator-initiated research, even if 
> the total funds per award cannot match those of NIH/NSF. I, for one, do not 
> believe the large consortia (e.g., CAP projects) are the most efficient use 
> of funds. Entrepreneurial scientists (especially the younger ones) will 
> continue to come up with new breakthroughs if we give them the chance both 
> with appropriate funding mechanisms and thoughtful and fair peer review. If 
> not, they will find a better way to make a living and more power to them. 
> 
> Regards, Jerry 
 
From John.Cole@ARS.USDA.GOV  Tue Oct  4 08:38:45 2011
From: "Cole, John" 
Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Date: Tue, 04 Oct 2011 08:38:45 -0500

Jerry-

Those are good points, and there is a good discussion to be had about how
best to fund infrastructure, which is something I'm not particularly
knowledge about.

I don't think having an R01-type program for ag is bad, but the funding is
not there right now. That's why I'm trying to look at a progeam that could
be low cost with reasonable potential for good returns.

John
-- 
Dr. John B. Cole, Research Geneticist (Animal) 
Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory, ARS, USDA 
Room 306, Bldg 005, BARC-West 
10300 Baltimore Avenue 
Beltsville, MD 20705-2350 

E-mail: john.cole@ars.usda.gov 
Phone: 301-504-8665 
Cell: 301-213-7480 
Fax: 301-504-8092

----- Original Message ----- 
.From: Taylor, Jerry F. (Animal Science) [mailto:taylorjerr@missouri.edu] 
.Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 07:54 AM 
.To: Cole, John; Multiple Recipients of  
.Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a  Nature Paper 

Good idea. But...

R01's already exist...but not for us.

capping overhead is not a good idea. We do this simply to maximize the
proportion of the small dollars that we recieve that goes into research.
However, in so doing, we rob our universities of the ability to support
vitally needed research infrastructures such as libraries, DNA Cores,
Bioinformatics Cores etc. It's not just paying for administrator's slaries.
In fact, they get paid even if no grants are brought in. So indirect really
is used to support our needs. I would propose the $250K budget as direct +
fiull indirect.

Jerry

________________________________________ 
.From: Cole, John [John.Cole@ARS.USDA.GOV] 
.Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 7:22 AM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of 
.Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a  Nature Paper 

 
Dear Group- 

For the sake of argument, suppose that we were in a position to propose a
new grant program, perhaps as a pilot. How would we structure it? Some
ideas:

- minimal application; 1-page bio, 1-page idea/proposal, 1-page budget 
- rapid turnaround (60 days? 
- panelists are identified when proposals are funded -- much easier than all 
of the conflict-of-interest hoops we currently jump through 
- moderate award -- $250 000 for a two-year project, renewable one time upon 
demonstration of substantial progress/results 
- 1-page annual progress report 
- all monies disbursed upfront, can be used for any legitimate expense, 
including travel, computers, and salary/overhead 
- cap overhead at 10%(our bosses would hate that) 
- any genotypes produced must be deposited in a public repository upon grant 
termination -- in animal genomics we waste too much money on duplicative 
genotyping 
- any IP produced must be licensed on a reasonable and non-discriminatory 
basis 
- resulting publications must be Open Access 
- what about an age/stage-of-career component to privilege younger 
scientists? 

The idea is to come up with a new model that can be tested, like Dan's
talking about. I think that it would be very interesting to let panels fund
projects with minimal formal guidelines, I.e., let them fund whatever
sounds interesting.

What does the group think? Good ideas? Poor ideas? Is something obvious is
missing? There is no point in recreating R01 grants, they already exist.
Let's share some new ideas.

Best,

John
-- 
Dr. John B. Cole, Research Geneticist (Animal) 
Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory, ARS, USDA 
Room 306, Bldg 005, BARC-West 
10300 Baltimore Avenue 
Beltsville, MD 20705-2350 

E-mail: john.cole@ars.usda.gov 
Phone: 301-504-8665 
Cell: 301-213-7480 
Fax: 301-504-8092

----- Original Message ----- 
.From: Daniel Gianola [mailto:gianola@ansci.wisc.edu] 
.Sent: Monday, October 03, 2011 06:12 PM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of 
 
.Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 

 
Jerry, 

I agree with what most you wrote. On the 2-page thing: why does the
Macarthur foundation give 500k to awardees based on a brief nomination? Why
does a nomination to the USA Academy of Scienes require a minimal
narrative?

Would the quality of science and its translational effect be hampered by a
simpler, faster, system?

What is the current system rewarding? Why is it so difficult for young
scientists to have an impact?

As geneticists, we strive for early predictions. Does the current system
distinguish between a young investigator with enormous talent from a
talented grant writer, perhaps with less potential but with seductive
charm?

As to the idea that writing a grant helps to "coalesce" ideas (not your
statement), I would argue that a good scientist's first inclnbation is to
communicate results, as opposed to use what is essentially a bureacratic
process to get money to fund ideas that (quite often) the scientist knows
they work before writing a grant, although this is not a deterministic
relationship.

Many economists have estimated the returns from research. Can anybody
produce a quantitative estimate of the superiority of the returns of the
current systems versus some of the variations that Joannidis advocates?

The current system produced last year over 1 million refereed articles,
mostly funded by some agency. What proportion of this output is signal
versus entropic? Another problem here...

Cheers,

Daniel


-----Original Message----- 
.From: Jerry Dodgson  
.Date: Mon, 3 Oct 2011 17:12:02 
.To: Multiple Recipients of 
.Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 

 
Hi all, 

Reflecting back on close to 40 years in the business now, I think it's true
that P.I.'s today spend significantly more time writing grant applications
in addition to all their other managerial duties, spokesperson
responsibilities, etc., leaving less time to actually DO science (either
physically or mentally). And, isn't this why most of us got into it in the
first place? Few of us really want to grow up and just be "project
managers" as in the real business world.

I don't think we actually spend more (or even as much) time PER application
(we used to actually have them typed), so we must be writing more of them.
Part of this is due to the lower success rate - part due to the
pressure/opportunity to write more applications. Prior to modern
recombinant DNA technology and now genomics, what one could legitimately
propose was very much restricted by what one could imagine actually
achieving. Doing real genetics/breeding has always been a slow process, and
it would have been foolish to suggest concurrent analysis of the expression
of every gene in the genome, for example. There were few really large labs 
and not as much incentive to build one. One phenotype/gene at a time was 
more than enough. Now, almost anyone can reasonably propose to accomplish 
wonders with a few hundred more gene chips, access to an Illumina machine 
and a good bioinformatics program. Furthermore, as already mentioned, 
peer/tenure pressure is on to acquire more and more funds. 

I think we can all agree that we'd like the funding pool to be larger, and
that whatever money there is should be parsed out by peer review. Given the
stakes involved, would we, as reviewers, be comfortable in doing so based
on a couple of pages and a good track record? Probably not, unless we were 
more confident that the system could legitimately serve the needs of all, 
or at least most, deserving scientists, rather than building a small number 
of mega-labs (whose members had little chance to replicate the success of 
their mentors). At least within NIFA-AFRI, peer review panels have the 
majority of the clout and are rarely over-ruled by program managers. I do 
think that, for the sake of the future, we need to put more of what limited 
funds exist into single (or a few) investigator-initiated research, even if 
the total funds per award cannot match those of NIH/NSF. I, for one, do not 
believe the large consortia (e.g., CAP projects) are the most efficient use 
of funds. Entrepreneurial scientists (especially the younger ones) will 
continue to come up with new breakthroughs if we give them the chance both 
with appropriate funding mechanisms and thoughtful and fair peer review. If 
not, they will find a better way to make a living and more power to them. 

Regards, Jerry

From taylorjerr@missouri.edu  Tue Oct  4 08:54:15 2011
From: "Taylor, Jerry F. (Animal Science)" 
Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Date: Tue, 04 Oct 2011 08:54:15 -0500

If you attempt to cut indirect further than the existing USDA 22% this
program will not be supported by Experiment Station directors and you may
end up stirring up a political storm. Tread gently.

Jerry

-----Original Message----- 
.From: Cole, John [mailto:John.Cole@ARS.USDA.GOV] 
.Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 8:39 AM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of 
.Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 

 
Jerry- 

Those are good points, and there is a good discussion to be had about how
best to fund infrastructure, which is something I'm not particularly
knowledge about.

I don't think having an R01-type program for ag is bad, but the funding is
not there right now. That's why I'm trying to look at a progeam that could
be low cost with reasonable potential for good returns.

John
-- 
Dr. John B. Cole, Research Geneticist (Animal) 
Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory, ARS, USDA 
Room 306, Bldg 005, BARC-West 
10300 Baltimore Avenue 
Beltsville, MD 20705-2350 

E-mail: john.cole@ars.usda.gov Phone: 301-504-8665 Cell: 301-213-7480 Fax:
301-504-8092

----- Original Message ----- 
.From: Taylor, Jerry F. (Animal Science) [mailto:taylorjerr@missouri.edu] 
.Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 07:54 AM 
.To: Cole, John; Multiple Recipients of  
.Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a  Nature Paper 

Good idea. But...

R01's already exist...but not for us.

capping overhead is not a good idea. We do this simply to maximize the
proportion of the small dollars that we recieve that goes into research.
However, in so doing, we rob our universities of the ability to support
vitally needed research infrastructures such as libraries, DNA Cores,
Bioinformatics Cores etc. It's not just paying for administrator's slaries.
In fact, they get paid even if no grants are brought in. So indirect really
is used to support our needs. I would propose the $250K budget as direct +
fiull indirect.

Jerry

________________________________________ 
.From: Cole, John [John.Cole@ARS.USDA.GOV] 
.Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 7:22 AM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of 
.Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a  Nature Paper 

 
Dear Group- 

For the sake of argument, suppose that we were in a position to propose a
new grant program, perhaps as a pilot. How would we structure it? Some
ideas:

- minimal application; 1-page bio, 1-page idea/proposal, 1-page budget 
- rapid turnaround (60 days? 
- panelists are identified when proposals are funded -- much easier than all 
of the conflict-of-interest hoops we currently jump through 
- moderate award -- $250 000 for a two-year project, renewable one time upon 
demonstration of substantial progress/results 
- 1-page annual progress report 
- all monies disbursed upfront, can be used for any legitimate expense, 
including travel, computers, and salary/overhead 
- cap overhead at 10%(our bosses would hate that) 
- any genotypes produced must be deposited in a public repository upon grant 
termination -- in animal genomics we waste too much money on duplicative 
genotyping 
- any IP produced must be licensed on a reasonable and non-discriminatory 
basis 
- resulting publications must be Open Access 
- what about an age/stage-of-career component to privilege younger 
scientists? 

The idea is to come up with a new model that can be tested, like Dan's
talking about. I think that it would be very interesting to let panels fund
projects with minimal formal guidelines, I.e., let them fund whatever
sounds interesting.

What does the group think? Good ideas? Poor ideas? Is something obvious is
missing? There is no point in recreating R01 grants, they already exist.
Let's share some new ideas.

Best,

John
-- 
Dr. John B. Cole, Research Geneticist (Animal) 
Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory, ARS, USDA 
Room 306, Bldg 005, BARC-West 
10300 Baltimore Avenue 
Beltsville, MD 20705-2350 

E-mail: john.cole@ars.usda.gov Phone: 301-504-8665 Cell: 301-213-7480 Fax:
301-504-8092

----- Original Message ----- 
.From: Daniel Gianola [mailto:gianola@ansci.wisc.edu] 
.Sent: Monday, October 03, 2011 06:12 PM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of  
.Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 
 
Jerry, 

I agree with what most you wrote. On the 2-page thing: why does the
Macarthur foundation give 500k to awardees based on a brief nomination? Why
does a nomination to the USA Academy of Scienes require a minimal
narrative?

Would the quality of science and its translational effect be hampered by a
simpler, faster, system?

What is the current system rewarding? Why is it so difficult for young
scientists to have an impact?

As geneticists, we strive for early predictions. Does the current system
distinguish between a young investigator with enormous talent from a
talented grant writer, perhaps with less potential but with seductive
charm?

As to the idea that writing a grant helps to "coalesce" ideas (not your
statement), I would argue that a good scientist's first inclnbation is to
communicate results, as opposed to use what is essentially a bureacratic
process to get money to fund ideas that (quite often) the scientist knows
they work before writing a grant, although this is not a deterministic
relationship.

Many economists have estimated the returns from research. Can anybody
produce a quantitative estimate of the superiority of the returns of the
current systems versus some of the variations that Joannidis advocates?

The current system produced last year over 1 million refereed articles,
mostly funded by some agency. What proportion of this output is signal
versus entropic? Another problem here...

Cheers,

Daniel


-----Original Message----- 
.From: Jerry Dodgson  
.Date: Mon, 3 Oct 2011 17:12:02 
.To: Multiple Recipients of 
.Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 
 
Hi all, 

Reflecting back on close to 40 years in the business now, I think it's true
that P.I.'s today spend significantly more time writing grant applications
in addition to all their other managerial duties, spokesperson
responsibilities, etc., leaving less time to actually DO science (either
physically or mentally). And, isn't this why most of us got into it in the
first place? Few of us really want to grow up and just be "project
managers" as in the real business world.

I don't think we actually spend more (or even as much) time PER application
(we used to actually have them typed), so we must be writing more of them.
Part of this is due to the lower success rate - part due to the
pressure/opportunity to write more applications. Prior to modern
recombinant DNA technology and now genomics, what one could legitimately
propose was very much restricted by what one could imagine actually
achieving. Doing real genetics/breeding has always been a slow process, and
it would have been foolish to suggest concurrent analysis of the expression
of every gene in the genome, for example. There were few really large labs 
and not as much incentive to build one. One phenotype/gene at a time was 
more than enough. Now, almost anyone can reasonably propose to accomplish 
wonders with a few hundred more gene chips, access to an Illumina machine 
and a good bioinformatics program. Furthermore, as already mentioned, 
peer/tenure pressure is on to acquire more and more funds. 

I think we can all agree that we'd like the funding pool to be larger, and
that whatever money there is should be parsed out by peer review. Given the
stakes involved, would we, as reviewers, be comfortable in doing so based
on a couple of pages and a good track record? Probably not, unless we were 
more confident that the system could legitimately serve the needs of all, 
or at least most, deserving scientists, rather than building a small number 
of mega-labs (whose members had little chance to replicate the success of 
their mentors). At least within NIFA-AFRI, peer review panels have the 
majority of the clout and are rarely over-ruled by program managers. I do 
think that, for the sake of the future, we need to put more of what limited 
funds exist into single (or a few) investigator-initiated research, even if 
the total funds per award cannot match those of NIH/NSF. I, for one, do not 
believe the large consortia (e.g., CAP projects) are the most efficient use 
of funds. Entrepreneurial scientists (especially the younger ones) will 
continue to come up with new breakthroughs if we give them the chance both 
with appropriate funding mechanisms and thoughtful and fair peer review. If 
not, they will find a better way to make a living and more power to them. 

Regards, Jerry

From igi2@cornell.edu  Tue Oct  4 09:55:43 2011
From: Ikhide Imumorin 
Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Date: Tue, 04 Oct 2011 09:55:43 -0500

Dear Colleagues 

I am very happy that my comments have sparked much needed conversations 
about the sorry state of agricultural research funding. Can somebody 
explain the historical reasons why NIH and NSF will allow institutions to 
negotiate indirect cost rates but USDA is fixed at 22%? NIH and NSF grants 
are exclusive of F&A while USDA says theirs is INCLUSIVE of indirect. 
There are institutions in the US with indirect cost rate of close to 100% 
at the NIH (Harvard for instance). This is paid ON TOP of the primary award. 

I agree with Jerry Taylor that it goes to support research infrastructure,
but why does it have to come out of our grants? Why will the USDA not
calibrate indirect to either be higher than the current rate or increase
grants a little to offset the F&A? For instance foundational grants to
individual PI is capped at $500K INCLUDING indirect, which means you
actually have roughly 380K available for the research work.

I think this goes to the fundamental problem I raised about funding 
agricultural research, which appears to be totally different from other
kinds of science (a la NIH and NSF), and why is that? Making sure we have 
safe and nutritious food is less important than health or basic science? 
It goes back to a fundamental issue of priorities. of course it is clear 
that food is a basic human need but going to the moon or building faster 
computers or understanding Antarctica is not exactly as critical (I am 
being somewhat facetious but you all get my point). 

A new RFA just came out and the USDA will give out only 8 awards of $3
million each over 5 years. That means of all the dozens of grants they will
get, only 8 will get funded (this will probably mean a success rate of 20%
or less). And the amount of work involved in putting these integrated
proposals together will run into tens of thousands of man hours over
several months. While I agree with this development, I think the total
amount could be reduced and fund more proposals, say fund up to 2x as many
at a lower amount. I mean $1.25 million + indirect over 5 years is not too
bad, no?

Make no mistake, talented young people are fleeing research in agriculture
to areas where their research careers stand a chance to being successful.
These young people are deploying their skills in genomics, bioinformatics
and statistics to problems in disease gene mapping and modeling,
epidemiology, etc because that is where the big bucks are. Or they simply
go to industry or into policy work. Some even go back to medical or law
schools and leave research for good.

Let us hope that those with the power to change things will rise to the
occasion. 

Best wishes.

 
Ikhide Imumorin, PhD 
Assistant Professor 
Animal Breeding, Genetics and Genomics Group 
Dept of Animal Science 
267 Morrison Hall 
Cornell University 
Ithaca, NY 14853 
USA 
T 607-255-2850 
F 607-255-9829 
igi2@cornell.edu 

http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/faculty/imumorin.html

Associate Editor, Genomics and Quantitative Genetics -
http://www.knoblauchpublishing.com Associate Editor, Journal of Applied
Animal Research - http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/TAAR Review Editor,
Frontiers in Genetics - http://www.frontiersin.org/genetics

 
________________________________________ 
.From: Taylor, Jerry F. (Animal Science) [taylorjerr@missouri.edu] 
.Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 9:54 AM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of 
.Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 

 
If you attempt to cut indirect further than the existing USDA 22% this 
program will not be supported by Experiment Station directors and you may 
end up stirring up a political storm. Tread gently. 

Jerry

-----Original Message----- 
.From: Cole, John [mailto:John.Cole@ARS.USDA.GOV] 
.Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 8:39 AM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of 
.Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 

 
Jerry- 

Those are good points, and there is a good discussion to be had about how
best to fund infrastructure, which is something I'm not particularly
knowledge about.

I don't think having an R01-type program for ag is bad, but the funding is
not there right now. That's why I'm trying to look at a progeam that could
be low cost with reasonable potential for good returns.

John
-- 
Dr. John B. Cole, Research Geneticist (Animal) 
Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory, ARS, USDA 
Room 306, Bldg 005, BARC-West 
10300 Baltimore Avenue 
Beltsville, MD 20705-2350 

E-mail: john.cole@ars.usda.gov 
Phone: 301-504-8665 
Cell: 301-213-7480 
Fax: 301-504-8092

----- Original Message ----- 
.From: Taylor, Jerry F. (Animal Science) [mailto:taylorjerr@missouri.edu] 
.Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 07:54 AM 
.To: Cole, John; Multiple Recipients of  
.Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 

Good idea. But...

R01's already exist...but not for us.

capping overhead is not a good idea. We do this simply to maximize the
proportion of the small dollars that we recieve that goes into research.
However, in so doing, we rob our universities of the ability to support
vitally needed research infrastructures such as libraries, DNA Cores,
Bioinformatics Cores etc. It's not just paying for administrator's slaries.
In fact, they get paid even if no grants are brought in. So indirect really
is used to support our needs. I would propose the $250K budget as direct +
fiull indirect.

Jerry

________________________________________ 
.From: Cole, John [John.Cole@ARS.USDA.GOV] 
.Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 7:22 AM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of 
.Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 

 
Dear Group- 

For the sake of argument, suppose that we were in a position to propose a
new grant program, perhaps as a pilot. How would we structure it? Some
ideas:

- minimal application; 1-page bio, 1-page idea/proposal, 1-page budget 
- rapid turnaround (60 days? 
- panelists are identified when proposals are funded -- much easier than all 
of the conflict-of-interest hoops we currently jump through 
- moderate award -- $250 000 for a two-year project, renewable one time upon 
demonstration of substantial progress/results 
- 1-page annual progress report 
- all monies disbursed upfront, can be used for any legitimate expense, 
including travel, computers, and salary/overhead 
- cap overhead at 10%(our bosses would hate that) 
- any genotypes produced must be deposited in a public repository upon grant 
termination -- in animal genomics we waste too much money on duplicative 
genotyping 
- any IP produced must be licensed on a reasonable and non-discriminatory 
basis 
- resulting publications must be Open Access 
- what about an age/stage-of-career component to privilege younger 
scientists? 

The idea is to come up with a new model that can be tested, like Dan's
talking about. I think that it would be very interesting to let panels fund
projects with minimal formal guidelines, I.e., let them fund whatever
sounds interesting.

What does the group think? Good ideas? Poor ideas? Is something obvious is
missing? There is no point in recreating R01 grants, they already exist.
Let's share some new ideas.

Best,

John
-- 
Dr. John B. Cole, Research Geneticist (Animal) 
Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory, ARS, USDA 
Room 306, Bldg 005, BARC-West 
10300 Baltimore Avenue 
Beltsville, MD 20705-2350 

E-mail: john.cole@ars.usda.gov 
Phone: 301-504-8665 
Cell: 301-213-7480 
Fax: 301-504-8092

----- Original Message ----- 
.From: Daniel Gianola [mailto:gianola@ansci.wisc.edu] 
.Sent: Monday, October 03, 2011 06:12 PM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of  
.Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 

 
Jerry, 

I agree with what most you wrote. On the 2-page thing: why does the
Macarthur foundation give 500k to awardees based on a brief nomination? Why
does a nomination to the USA Academy of Scienes require a minimal
narrative?

Would the quality of science and its translational effect be hampered by a
simpler, faster, system?

What is the current system rewarding? Why is it so difficult for young
scientists to have an impact?

As geneticists, we strive for early predictions. Does the current system
distinguish between a young investigator with enormous talent from a
talented grant writer, perhaps with less potential but with seductive
charm?

As to the idea that writing a grant helps to "coalesce" ideas (not your
statement), I would argue that a good scientist's first inclnbation is to
communicate results, as opposed to use what is essentially a bureacratic
process to get money to fund ideas that (quite often) the scientist knows
they work before writing a grant, although this is not a deterministic
relationship.

Many economists have estimated the returns from research. Can anybody
produce a quantitative estimate of the superiority of the returns of the
current systems versus some of the variations that Joannidis advocates?

The current system produced last year over 1 million refereed articles,
mostly funded by some agency. What proportion of this output is signal
versus entropic? Another problem here...

Cheers,

Daniel

-----Original Message----- 
.From: Jerry Dodgson  
.Date: Mon, 3 Oct 2011 17:12:02 
.To: Multiple Recipients of 
.Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 

 
Hi all, 

Reflecting back on close to 40 years in the business now, I think it's true
that P.I.'s today spend significantly more time writing grant applications
in addition to all their other managerial duties, spokesperson
responsibilities, etc., leaving less time to actually DO science (either
physically or mentally). And, isn't this why most of us got into it in the
first place? Few of us really want to grow up and just be "project
managers" as in the real business world.

I don't think we actually spend more (or even as much) time PER application
(we used to actually have them typed), so we must be writing more of them.
Part of this is due to the lower success rate - part due to the
pressure/opportunity to write more applications. Prior to modern
recombinant DNA technology and now genomics, what one could legitimately
propose was very much restricted by what one could imagine actually
achieving. Doing real genetics/breeding has always been a slow process, and
it would have been foolish to suggest concurrent analysis of the expression
of every gene in the genome, for example. There were few really large labs 
and not as much incentive to build one. One phenotype/gene at a time was 
more than enough. Now, almost anyone can reasonably propose to accomplish 
wonders with a few hundred more gene chips, access to an Illumina machine 
and a good bioinformatics program. Furthermore, as already mentioned, 
peer/tenure pressure is on to acquire more and more funds. 

I think we can all agree that we'd like the funding pool to be larger, and
that whatever money there is should be parsed out by peer review. Given the
stakes involved, would we, as reviewers, be comfortable in doing so based
on a couple of pages and a good track record? Probably not, unless we were 
more confident that the system could legitimately serve the needs of all, 
or at least most, deserving scientists, rather than building a small number 
of mega-labs (whose members had little chance to replicate the success of 
their mentors). At least within NIFA-AFRI, peer review panels have the 
majority of the clout and are rarely over-ruled by program managers. I do 
think that, for the sake of the future, we need to put more of what limited 
funds exist into single (or a few) investigator-initiated research, even if 
the total funds per award cannot match those of NIH/NSF. I, for one, do not 
believe the large consortia (e.g., CAP projects) are the most efficient use 
of funds. Entrepreneurial scientists (especially the younger ones) will 
continue to come up with new breakthroughs if we give them the chance both 
with appropriate funding mechanisms and thoughtful and fair peer review. If 
not, they will find a better way to make a living and more power to them. 

Regards, Jerry

From igi2@cornell.edu  Tue Oct  4 10:04:24 2011
From: Ikhide Imumorin 
Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Date: Tue, 04 Oct 2011 10:04:24 -0500

I would be interested in joining together to carry out this study. We can
collect data from NSF, NIH, USDA, EPA, DoD from the US and maybe compare
with Europe and Japan and see what shakes down!!

 
Ikhide Imumorin, PhD 
Assistant Professor 
Animal Breeding, Genetics and Genomics Group 
Dept of Animal Science 
267 Morrison Hall 
Cornell University 
Ithaca, NY 14853 
USA 
T 607-255-2850 
F 607-255-9829 
igi2@cornell.edu 

http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/faculty/imumorin.html

Associate Editor, Genomics and Quantitative Genetics -
http://www.knoblauchpublishing.com Associate Editor, Journal of Applied
Animal Research - http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/TAAR Review Editor,
Frontiers in Genetics - http://www.frontiersin.org/genetics

 
 
________________________________________ 
.From: Akin Pala [dr.akin.pala@gmail.com] 
.Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 9:20 AM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of 
.Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 

 
It would be nice if we had hard evidence that lets say, 4 projects with 250 
000 dollar budgets each would have equal or higher total impact compared to 
a million dollar project. It would be good enough to convince some policy 
makers. I believe we can run some kind of analysis to reach a conclusion. I 
will be in Brussels soon, if anybody is willing to carry the US side, I can 
try some EU officials to get me access to European data. It does not have 
to be animal genomics only, it could be a general impact analyses, 
separated by lets say life sciences, environment, physics etc. I believe it 
would make a good Nature article and would have the power to affect some 
policy makers. Otherwise we will just be talking among ourselves. 

If anyone is up for it, count me in. The more authors we have, the better :) 

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Akin Pala 
http://members.comu.edu.tr/akin/ 
Department Head of Animal Science 
Reviewer and rapporteur for the EU 

 
On Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 16:03, Taylor, Jerry F. (Animal Science) 
 wrote: 
> 
> Let me make sure I made myself clear. 
> 
> I propose that the grant funding program pay $250k per grant in direct and 
> in addition pay full indirect on top of that. 
> 
> Jerry 
> 
> ________________________________________ 
> .From: Taylor, Jerry F. (Animal Science) [taylorjerr@missouri.edu] 
> .Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 7:57 AM 
> .To: Multiple Recipients of 
> .Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 
> 
> 
> Good idea. But... 
> 
> R01's already exist...but not for us. 
> 
> capping overhead is not a good idea. We do this simply to maximize the 
> proportion of the small dollars that we recieve that goes into research. 
> However, in so doing, we rob our universities of the ability to support 
> vitally needed research infrastructures such as libraries, DNA Cores, 
> Bioinformatics Cores etc. It's not just paying for administrator's slaries. 
> In fact, they get paid even if no grants are brought in. So indirect really 
> is used to support our needs. I would propose the $250K budget as direct + 
> fiull indirect. 
> 
> Jerry 
> 
> ________________________________________ 
> .From: Cole, John [John.Cole@ARS.USDA.GOV] 
> .Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 7:22 AM 
> .To: Multiple Recipients of 
> .Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 
> 
> 
> Dear Group- 
> 
> For the sake of argument, suppose that we were in a position to propose a 
> new grant program, perhaps as a pilot. How would we structure it? Some 
> ideas: 
> 
> - minimal application; 1-page bio, 1-page idea/proposal, 1-page budget 
> - rapid turnaround (60 days? 
> - panelists are identified when proposals are funded -- much easier than 
all 
> of the conflict-of-interest hoops we currently jump through 
> - moderate award -- $250 000 for a two-year project, renewable one time 
upon 
> demonstration of substantial progress/results 
> - 1-page annual progress report 
> - all monies disbursed upfront, can be used for any legitimate expense, 
> including travel, computers, and salary/overhead 
> - cap overhead at 10%(our bosses would hate that) 
> - any genotypes produced must be deposited in a public repository upon 
grant 
> termination -- in animal genomics we waste too much money on duplicative 
> genotyping 
> - any IP produced must be licensed on a reasonable and non-discriminatory 
> basis 
> - resulting publications must be Open Access 
> - what about an age/stage-of-career component to privilege younger 
> scientists? 
> 
> The idea is to come up with a new model that can be tested, like Dan's 
> talking about. I think that it would be very interesting to let panels fund 
> projects with minimal formal guidelines, I.e., let them fund whatever 
> sounds interesting. 
> 
> What does the group think? Good ideas? Poor ideas? Is something obvious is 
> missing? There is no point in recreating R01 grants, they already exist. 
> Let's share some new ideas. 
> 
> Best, 
> 
> John 
> -- 
> Dr. John B. Cole, Research Geneticist (Animal) 
> Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory, ARS, USDA 
> Room 306, Bldg 005, BARC-West 
> 10300 Baltimore Avenue 
> Beltsville, MD 20705-2350 
> 
> E-mail: john.cole@ars.usda.gov 
> Phone: 301-504-8665 
> Cell: 301-213-7480 
> Fax: 301-504-8092 
> 
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> .From: Daniel Gianola [mailto:gianola@ansci.wisc.edu] 
> .Sent: Monday, October 03, 2011 06:12 PM 
> .To: Multiple Recipients of  
> .Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 
> 
> 
> Jerry, 
> 
> I agree with what most you wrote. On the 2-page thing: why does the 
> Macarthur foundation give 500k to awardees based on a brief nomination? Why 
> does a nomination to the USA Academy of Scienes require a minimal 
> narrative? 
> 
> Would the quality of science and its translational effect be hampered by a 
> simpler, faster, system? 
> 
> What is the current system rewarding? Why is it so difficult for young 
> scientists to have an impact? 
> 
> As geneticists, we strive for early predictions. Does the current system 
> distinguish between a young investigator with enormous talent from a 
> talented grant writer, perhaps with less potential but with seductive 
> charm? 
> 
> As to the idea that writing a grant helps to "coalesce" ideas (not your 
> statement), I would argue that a good scientist's first inclnbation is to 
> communicate results, as opposed to use what is essentially a bureacratic 
> process to get money to fund ideas that (quite often) the scientist knows 
> they work before writing a grant, although this is not a deterministic 
> relationship. 
> 
> Many economists have estimated the returns from research. Can anybody 
> produce a quantitative estimate of the superiority of the returns of the 
> current systems versus some of the variations that Joannidis advocates? 
> 
> The current system produced last year over 1 million refereed articles, 
> mostly funded by some agency. What proportion of this output is signal 
> versus entropic? Another problem here... 
> 
> Cheers, 
> 
> Daniel 
> 
> 
> -----Original Message----- 
> .From: Jerry Dodgson  
> .Date: Mon, 3 Oct 2011 17:12:02 
> .To: Multiple Recipients of 
> .Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 
> 
> 
> Hi all, 
> 
> Reflecting back on close to 40 years in the business now, I think it's true 
> that P.I.'s today spend significantly more time writing grant applications 
> in addition to all their other managerial duties, spokesperson 
> responsibilities, etc., leaving less time to actually DO science (either 
> physically or mentally). And, isn't this why most of us got into it in the 
> first place? Few of us really want to grow up and just be "project 
> managers" as in the real business world. 
> 
> I don't think we actually spend more (or even as much) time PER application 
> (we used to actually have them typed), so we must be writing more of them. 
> Part of this is due to the lower success rate - part due to the 
> pressure/opportunity to write more applications. Prior to modern 
> recombinant DNA technology and now genomics, what one could legitimately 
> propose was very much restricted by what one could imagine actually 
> achieving. Doing real genetics/breeding has always been a slow process, and 
> it would have been foolish to suggest concurrent analysis of the expression 
> of every gene in the genome, for example. There were few really large labs 
> and not as much incentive to build one. One phenotype/gene at a time was 
> more than enough. Now, almost anyone can reasonably propose to accomplish 
> wonders with a few hundred more gene chips, access to an Illumina machine 
> and a good bioinformatics program. Furthermore, as already mentioned, 
> peer/tenure pressure is on to acquire more and more funds. 
> 
> I think we can all agree that we'd like the funding pool to be larger, and 
> that whatever money there is should be parsed out by peer review. Given the 
> stakes involved, would we, as reviewers, be comfortable in doing so based 
> on a couple of pages and a good track record? Probably not, unless we were 
> more confident that the system could legitimately serve the needs of all, 
> or at least most, deserving scientists, rather than building a small number 
> of mega-labs (whose members had little chance to replicate the success of 
> their mentors). At least within NIFA-AFRI, peer review panels have the 
> majority of the clout and are rarely over-ruled by program managers. I do 
> think that, for the sake of the future, we need to put more of what limited 
> funds exist into single (or a few) investigator-initiated research, even if 
> the total funds per award cannot match those of NIH/NSF. I, for one, do not 
> believe the large consortia (e.g., CAP projects) are the most efficient use 
> of funds. Entrepreneurial scientists (especially the younger ones) will 
> continue to come up with new breakthroughs if we give them the chance both 
> with appropriate funding mechanisms and thoughtful and fair peer review. If 
> not, they will find a better way to make a living and more power to them. 
> 
> Regards, Jerry 
 
From yurii.aulchenko@gmail.com  Tue Oct  4 10:09:55 2011
Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper
From: Yury Aulchenko 
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Date: Tue, 04 Oct 2011 10:09:55 -0500

Dear John, dear All,

> - minimal application; 1-page bio, 1-page idea/proposal, 1-page budget 
... 
> - what about an age/stage-of-career component to privilege younger 
> scientists? 
> 

These are very good ideas. Surely there age/stage component should be
there.

Along these lines: I wonder if tying the length of the proposal to career
stage may be a good idea (sorry if this was discussed before and I missed
this). E.g. for a senior scientist 1-page proposal is good, because he/she
can support the proposal by own references, and the proposal will look
credible. A starting scientist may need more space to explain his/her ideas
in better details.

Yurii

-------------------------------------------------------
Yurii Aulchenko, PhD, Dr. Habil.
Independent researcher and consultant
yurii [dot] aulchenko [at] gmail [dot] com

From John.Cole@ARS.USDA.GOV  Tue Oct  4 10:16:54 2011
From: "Cole, John" 
Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Date: Tue, 04 Oct 2011 10:16:54 -0500

Deat Yury and Ikhide-

Thanks for your comments. Jerry has been very helpfully filling-in gaps in
my knowledge, particularly on overhead.

I'm looking into the AFRI overhead issue, and will share what I find.

John
-- 
Dr. John B. Cole, Research Geneticist (Animal) 
Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory, ARS, USDA 
Room 306, Bldg 005, BARC-West 
10300 Baltimore Avenue 
Beltsville, MD 20705-2350 

E-mail: john.cole@ars.usda.gov 
Phone: 301-504-8665 
Cell: 301-213-7480 
Fax: 301-504-8092

----- Original Message ----- 
.From: Yury Aulchenko [mailto:yurii.aulchenko@gmail.com] 
.Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 10:09 AM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of  
.Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a  Nature Paper 

 
Dear John, dear All, 

> - minimal application; 1-page bio, 1-page idea/proposal, 1-page budget 
.. 
> - what about an age/stage-of-career component to privilege younger 
> scientists? 
> 

These are very good ideas. Surely there age/stage component should be
there.

Along these lines: I wonder if tying the length of the proposal to career
stage may be a good idea (sorry if this was discussed before and I missed
this). E.g. for a senior scientist 1-page proposal is good, because he/she
can support the proposal by own references, and the proposal will look
credible. A starting scientist may need more space to explain his/her ideas
in better details.

Yurii

 
From dr.akin.pala@gmail.com  Tue Oct  4 10:33:24 2011
From: Akin Pala 
Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Date: Tue, 04 Oct 2011 10:33:24 -0500

There are some discussion papers that goes to measure impact beyond
economics. EU has steps in place to measure both short term impact and long
term impact. One of the ways they do it is by using surveys. I will
definitely know more once I am in Brussels, which is the end of October. I
can then contact back with the people who are willing to work on this.
There I will also talk to a friend of mine who had a Nature paper on a
similar subject, I think it was on the ways researchers try to get more
citations.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Akin Pala 
http://members.comu.edu.tr/akin/ 
Department Head of Animal Science

 

On Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 16:35, Cole, John  wrote: >
> Dear Akin- 
> 
> That's not a bad idea, but is there consensus on how best to measure 
> impact? I could talk to some people on this end about gathering data. 
> 
> John 
> -- 
> Dr. John B. Cole, Research Geneticist (Animal) 
> Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory, ARS, USDA 
> Room 306, Bldg 005, BARC-West 
> 10300 Baltimore Avenue 
> Beltsville, MD 20705-2350 
> 
> E-mail: john.cole@ars.usda.gov Phone: 301-504-8665 Cell: 301-213-7480 Fax: 
> 301-504-8092 
> 
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> .From: Akin Pala [mailto:dr.akin.pala@gmail.com] 
> .Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 08:20 AM 
> .To: Multiple Recipients of  
> .Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a †Nature  Paper 
> 
> 
> It would be nice if we had hard evidence that lets say, 4 projects with 250 
> 000 dollar budgets each would have equal or higher total impact compared to 
> a million dollar project. It would be good enough to convince some policy 
> makers. I believe we can run some kind of analysis to reach a conclusion. I 
> will be in Brussels soon, if anybody is willing to carry the US side, I can 
> try some EU officials to get me access to European data. It does not have 
> to be animal genomics only, it could be a general impact analyses, 
> separated by lets say life sciences, environment, physics etc. I believe it 
> would make a good Nature article and would have the power to affect some 
> policy makers. Otherwise we will just be talking among 
> ourselves. 
> If anyone is up for it, count me in. The more authors we have, the better 
:) 
> 
> Assoc. Prof. Dr. Akin Pala http://members.comu.edu.tr/akin/ Department Head 
> of Animal Science Reviewer and rapporteur for the EU 
> 
> 
> On Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 16:03, Taylor, Jerry F. (Animal Science) 
>  wrote: 
>> Let me make sure I made myself clear. 
>> I propose that the grant funding program pay $250k per grant in direct and 
>> in addition pay full indirect on top of that. 
>> Jerry 
>> ________________________________________ 
>> .From: Taylor, Jerry F. (Animal Science) [taylorjerr@missouri.edu] 
>> .Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 7:57 AM 
>> .To: Multiple Recipients of 
>> .Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a  †Nature  Paper 
>>
>> Good idea. But... 
>> R01's already exist...but not for us. 
>> capping overhead is not a good idea. We do this simply to maximize the 
>> proportion of the small dollars that we recieve that goes into research. 
>> However, in so doing, we rob our universities of the ability to support 
>> vitally needed research infrastructures such as libraries, DNA Cores, 
>> Bioinformatics Cores etc. It's not just paying for administrator's slaries. 
>> In fact, they get paid even if no grants are brought in. So indirect really 
>> is used to support our needs. I would propose the $250K budget as direct + 
>> fiull indirect. 
>> Jerry 
>> ________________________________________ 
>> .From: Cole, John [John.Cole@ARS.USDA.GOV] 
>> .Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 7:22 AM 
>> .To: Multiple Recipients of 
>> .Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 
>>
>> Dear Group- 
>> For the sake of argument, suppose that we were in a position to propose a 
>> new grant program, perhaps as a pilot. How would we structure it? Some 
>> ideas: 
>> - minimal application; 1-page bio, 1-page idea/proposal, 1-page budget 
>> - rapid turnaround (60 days? 
>> - panelists are identified when proposals are funded -- much easier than all 
>> of the conflict-of-interest hoops we currently jump through 
>> - moderate award -- $250 000 for a two-year project, renewable one time upon 
>> demonstration of substantial progress/results 
>> - 1-page annual progress report 
>> - all monies disbursed upfront, can be used for any legitimate expense, 
>> including travel, computers, and salary/overhead 
>> - cap overhead at 10%(our bosses would hate that) 
>> - any genotypes produced must be deposited in a public repository upon grant 
>> termination -- in animal genomics we waste too much money on duplicative 
>> genotyping 
>> - any IP produced must be licensed on a reasonable and non-discriminatory 
>> basis 
>> - resulting publications must be Open Access 
>> - what about an age/stage-of-career component to privilege younger 
>> scientists? 
>> The idea is to come up with a new model that can be tested, like Dan's 
>> talking about. I think that it would be very interesting to let panels fund 
>> projects with minimal formal guidelines, I.e., let them fund whatever 
>> sounds interesting. 
>> What does the group think? Good ideas? Poor ideas? Is something obvious is 
>> missing? There is no point in recreating R01 grants, they already exist. 
>> Let's share some new ideas. 
>> Best, 
>> John 
>> -- 
>> Dr. John B. Cole, Research Geneticist (Animal) 
>> Animal Improvement Programs Laboratory, ARS, USDA 
>> Room 306, Bldg 005, BARC-West 
>> 10300 Baltimore Avenue 
>> Beltsville, MD 20705-2350 
>> E-mail: john.cole@ars.usda.gov Phone: 301-504-8665 Cell: 301-213-7480 Fax: 
>> 301-504-8092 
>> ----- Original Message ----- 
>> .From: Daniel Gianola [mailto:gianola@ansci.wisc.edu] 
>> .Sent: Monday, October 03, 2011 06:12 PM 
>> .To: Multiple Recipients of 
>>  
>> .Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 
>>
>> Jerry, 
>> I agree with what most you wrote. On the 2-page thing: why does the 
>> Macarthur foundation give 500k to awardees based on a brief nomination?  Why 
>> does a nomination to the USA Academy of Scienes require a minimal 
>> narrative? 
>> Would the quality of science and its translational effect be hampered by a 
>> simpler, faster, system? 
>> What is the current system rewarding? Why is it so difficult for young 
>> scientists to have an impact? 
>> As geneticists, we strive for early predictions. Does the current system 
>> distinguish between a young investigator with enormous talent from a 
>> talented grant writer, perhaps with less potential but with seductive 
>> charm? 
>> As to the idea that writing a grant helps to "coalesce" ideas (not your 
>> statement), I would argue that a good scientist's first inclnbation is to 
>> communicate results, as opposed to use what is essentially a bureacratic 
>> process to get money to fund ideas that (quite often) the scientist knows 
>> they work before writing a grant, although this is not a deterministic 
>> relationship. 
>> Many economists have estimated the returns from research. Can anybody 
>> produce a quantitative estimate of the superiority of the returns of the 
>> current systems versus some of the variations that Joannidis advocates? 
>> The current system produced last year over 1 million refereed articles, 
>> mostly funded by some agency. What proportion of this output is signal 
>> versus entropic? Another problem here... 
>> Cheers, 
>> Daniel 
>> 
>> -----Original Message----- 
>> .From: Jerry Dodgson  
>> .Date: Mon, 3 Oct 2011 17:12:02 
>> .To: Multiple Recipients of 
>> .Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a † Nature Paper 
>>
>> Hi all, 
>> Reflecting back on close to 40 years in the business now, I think it's 
true 
>> that P.I.'s today spend significantly more time writing grant applications 
>> in addition to all their other managerial duties, spokesperson 
>> responsibilities, etc., leaving less time to actually DO science (either 
>> physically or mentally). And, isn't this why most of us got into it in the 
>> first place? Few of us really want to grow up and just be "project 
>> managers" as in the real business world. 
>> I don't think we actually spend more (or even as much) time PER application 
>> (we used to actually have them typed), so we must be writing more of them. 
>> Part of this is due to the lower success rate - part due to the 
>> pressure/opportunity to write more applications. Prior to modern 
>> recombinant DNA technology and now genomics, what one could legitimately 
>> propose was very much restricted by what one could imagine actually 
>> achieving. Doing real genetics/breeding has always been a slow process, and 
>> it would have been foolish to suggest concurrent analysis of the expression 
>> of every gene in the genome, for example. There were few really large labs 
>> and not as much incentive to build one. One phenotype/gene at a time was 
>> more than enough. Now, almost anyone can reasonably propose to accomplish 
>> wonders with a few hundred more gene chips, access to an Illumina machine 
>> and a good bioinformatics program. Furthermore, as already mentioned, 
>> peer/tenure pressure is on to acquire more and more funds. 
>> I think we can all agree that we'd like the funding pool to be larger, and 
>> that whatever money there is should be parsed out by peer review. Given the 
>> stakes involved, would we, as reviewers, be comfortable in doing so based 
>> on a couple of pages and a good track record? Probably not, unless we were 
>> more confident that the system could legitimately serve the needs of all, 
>> or at least most, deserving scientists, rather than building a small number 
>> of mega-labs (whose members had little chance to replicate the success of 
>> their mentors). At least within NIFA-AFRI, peer review panels have the 
>> majority of the clout and are rarely over-ruled by program managers. I do 
>> think that, for the sake of the future, we need to put more of what limited 
>> funds exist into single (or a few) investigator-initiated research, even if 
>> the total funds per award cannot match those of NIH/NSF. I, for one, do not 
>> believe the large consortia (e.g., CAP projects) are the most efficient use 
>> of funds. Entrepreneurial scientists (especially the younger ones) will 
>> continue to come up with new breakthroughs if we give them the chance both 
>> with appropriate funding mechanisms and thoughtful and fair peer review.  If 
>> not, they will find a better way to make a living and more power to them. 
>> Regards, Jerry 
 
From dodgson@msu.edu  Tue Oct  4 10:52:44 2011
From: Jerry Dodgson 
Subject: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a  Nature Paper
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Date: Tue, 04 Oct 2011 10:52:44 -0500

Greetings once more,

I don't know much about MacArthur awards, but I'm told that NAS election
involves considerable internal lobbying (and occasional black-balling)
among the membership. Not sure that's how we want to award grants.

I'm sure the current process can be streamlined somewhat, but if all it
took was an updated CV, wouldn't we all submit to every RFA that would
permit us? Maybe we can just consult one of the databases of CVs of all
relevant scientists and decide to whom the money goes without any
application at all (pretty much the MacArthur approach)? Or maybe we need
these long applications so that all of us who have no funds to work in the
lab have something to keep us busy?

Obviously, I have no good answer to the problem (more money would help). I
do think USDA currently spends too much effort trying to please special
interests among Congress and commodity groups, rather than letting
scientists tell them what can be done (through unconstrained, investigator-
initiated applications) and what's good (via peer review). NIH and NSF are
better at this.

I'm dubious about measuring impacts in the short run. Just as indirect
costs have lots of necessary infrastructure value that we often tend to
ignore, the impact of maintaining a viable, if not thriving, core of
quality scientists is huge but hard to measure. My bias is that industry
often does better at achieving short term, applied goals and what  
limited funds are available in the public sector should be more focused  
on basic science, where I believe most of the big fundamental and  
technological breakthroughs arise (higher risk but larger and more broad  
long term payoff). 

A related question is the "population structure" of science. Most of us,
especially on the molecular side, train significantly more
students/postdocs than will be needed to replace us (no matter how valuable
we see ourselves as being). As I said before, this increased significantly
when technology made "hands" rather than good ideas the limiting factor in
what is viewed as "research productivity" (especially when measured by
publication or monetary metrics). For a while, expansion of resources
(especially at NIH, not so much at USDA; to some extent in industry) could
(barely) keep pace. At the moment, many grad programs and labs depend on
foreign countries as both the source of our trainees and the sink where we
hope our trainees eventually can find jobs. This may not continue
indefinitely. I find it very hard to predict which students will "succeed"
and those who may not meet at least my idea of success, but if I could,
would I be justified in recruiting the latter to a career in science, even
if they are needed to do the research (while I am busy writing grants)?
Perhaps a change to the population structure of science labs could do more
to promote efficiency than a change to the grant structure.

Again, this probably provides more questions than answers. I'll stop and
listen.

Regards, Jerry


From thm@life.ku.dk  Wed Oct  5 02:36:53 2011
From: "Thomas Mark" 
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Subject: Svar: Re: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a  Nature Paper
Date: Wed, 05 Oct 2011 02:36:53 -0500

Dear Group,

Just a few comments to John's list of ideas:

Some Danish grants have two rounds. In the 1st round the success rate is
low, but application is also minimal (present research idea/objectives and
a rough budget). If you get through to the 2nd round more details are
required, but success rate is high. This is for grants with high awards and
I find that it works ok (even after having been turned down in 2nd round).

What we don't require is that genotypes funded by public grants are
deposited in a public repository upon grant termination which is a pity in
my mind. John mentions dublicative efforts, but it could also monopolise
our science.

Best, Thomas

> 04-10-2011 kl.  2:22 pm skrev "Cole, John" : 
> 
> Dear Group- 
> 
> For the sake of argument, suppose that we were in a position to propose a 
> new grant program, perhaps as a pilot. How would we structure it? Some 
> ideas: 
> 
> - minimal application; 1-page bio, 1-page idea/proposal, 1-page budget 
> - rapid turnaround (60 days? 
> - panelists are identified when proposals are funded -- much easier than all 
> of the conflict-of-interest hoops we currently jump through 
> - moderate award -- $250 000 for a two-year project, renewable one time upon 
> demonstration of substantial progress/results 
> - 1-page annual progress report 
> - all monies disbursed upfront, can be used for any legitimate expense, 
> including travel, computers, and salary/overhead 
> - cap overhead at 10%(our bosses would hate that) 
> - any genotypes produced must be deposited in a public repository upon grant 
> termination -- in animal genomics we waste too much money on duplicative 
> genotyping 
> - any IP produced must be licensed on a reasonable and non-discriminatory 
> basis 
> - resulting publications must be Open Access 
> - what about an age/stage-of-career component to privilege younger 
> scientists? 
> 
> The idea is to come up with a new model that can be tested, like Dan's 
> talking about. I think that it would be very interesting to let panels fund 
> projects with minimal formal guidelines, I.e., let them fund whatever 
> sounds interesting. 
> 
> What does the group think? Good ideas? Poor ideas? Is something obvious is 
> missing? There is no point in recreating R01 grants, they already exist. 
> Let's share some new ideas. 
> 
> Best, 
> 
> John 

From lmatukumalli@nifa.usda.gov  Thu Oct  6 09:36:10 2011
From: "Matukumalli, Lakshmi" 
Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Date: Thu, 06 Oct 2011 09:36:10 -0500

Dear Colleagues,

I have been closely listening (stakeholder inputs) to the discussions that
were held on this forum over the past week. I have also been sharing the
highlights of those discussions with my colleagues here and with the
administration.

I would like to bring to your attention two pertinent RFAs related to
animal sciences that were released recently

http://www.nifa.usda.gov/funding/rfas/afri.html

Food Security- $19 million NIFA Fellowships Grant Program- $12 million

The Food Security RFA specifically includes an area called Improving Animal
Health and Production, which will fund projects in:

a. Translational Genomics for Disease Resistance in Animals, 
b. Extension-driven Disease Prevention and Control in Animals, and 
c. Translational Genomics for Improved Fertility of Animals.

Please follow all the RFA instructions carefully, sometimes a good proposal
gets rejected by the screening staff for an overlooked RFA instruction.

In the recent years genome sequence and SNP genotyping resources were used
for Improving the productivity (Genome Selection projects). We also need to
focus on using these tools and resources for improving animal health and 
fertility. 

We encourage the researchers working in the areas of animal health and
fertility to partner with the genomics community for efficiently applying
genomic tools for delivering solutions to important animal agricultural
problems. We expect the genomics community to play a major role in
developing partnerships to be able to support multiple projects in health,
growth and nutrition funded by the NIFA.

The vision in supporting larger projects was to help solve complex problems
Encompassing all the research, extension and education objectives. The onus
of encouraging and promoting new talent will fall on the PD proposing these 
projects. 

 
I have been focusing on 5 main areas. 

1. Overall funding for animal genomics research 
2. Promoting new talent and leadership. 
3. Genomics and bioinformatics infrastructure 
4. Efficient sharing of data and results from the publicly funded projects 
5. Identification of research areas that needs to targeted

 
Thank you, 

 
Lakshmi Kumar Matukumalli 
National Program Leader, 
Animal Breeding, Genetics and Genomics 
Division of Animal Systems 
Institute of Food Production and Sustainability 
National Institute of Food and Agriculture 
U.S. Department of Agriculture 
800 9th St. SW, Room 3443 
Washington, DC 20024 
E-mail:   lmatukumalli@nifa.usda.gov 
Office:    202-401-1766 
Cell:      202-841-6009 
Fax:       202-401-6488 
 

-----Original Message----- 
.From: Yang Da [mailto:yda@umn.edu] 
.Sent: Sunday, October 02, 2011 2:10 PM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of  
.Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 
 
I would raise a question about what USDA research should focus on. The 
research focus of the past two funding cycles appears to be a huge 
departure from the past. Childhood obesity should be a popular subject but 
should that be addressed by NIH? Is the USDA research funding too small a 
bucket of water for a huge fire? Climate change seems to require a global 
effort but USDA is taking on that too, although climate change probably 
could be considered as 'agriculture'. 

Yang Da 
Department of Animal Science 
University of Minnesota

From JDMurray@UCDavis.Edu  Thu Oct  6 10:47:52 2011
Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper
From: "James D. Murray" 
To: Multiple Recipients of 
Date: Thu, 06 Oct 2011 10:47:52 -0500

The RFAs are great, but at some point I believe that the USDA funding needs
to encompass genetic engineering as one tool to improve food security and
animal health. As in the past the USDA specifically excluded a genetic
engineering approach, it is unclear to those of us in the field if our
proposals would fit in with, and be fairly evaluated under, the current
RFAs. Work in this area is moving rapidly ahead in other countries (for 
example China), while in this country the number of laboratories involved 
in the genetic engineering of livestock for use in food production and the 
number of young scientists is decreasing. Yet it seems to me that we cannot 
meet the increasing demand that is coming for animal products produced in 
an economic and environmentally sustainable manner without applying all of 
the tools we have at our disposal. 

Jim Murray 
Department of Animal Science 
University of California 
Davis CA 95616 
Email: jdmurray@ucdavis.edu

-----Original Message----- 
.From: Matukumalli, Lakshmi [mailto:lmatukumalli@nifa.usda.gov] 
.Sent: Thursday, October 06, 2011 7:36 AM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of  
.Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 

 
Dear Colleagues, 

I have been closely listening (stakeholder inputs) to the discussions that
were held on this forum over the past week. I have also been sharing the
highlights of those discussions with my colleagues here and with the
administration.

I would like to bring to your attention two pertinent RFAs related to
animal sciences that were released recently

http://www.nifa.usda.gov/funding/rfas/afri.html

Food Security- $19 million NIFA Fellowships Grant Program- $12 million

The Food Security RFA specifically includes an area called Improving Animal
Health and Production, which will fund projects in:

a. Translational Genomics for Disease Resistance in Animals, 
b. Extension-driven Disease Prevention and Control in Animals, and 
c. Translational Genomics for Improved Fertility of Animals.

Please follow all the RFA instructions carefully, sometimes a good proposal
gets rejected by the screening staff for an overlooked RFA instruction.

In the recent years genome sequence and SNP genotyping resources were used
for Improving the productivity (Genome Selection projects). We also need to
focus on using these tools and resources for improving animal health and 
fertility. 

We encourage the researchers working in the areas of animal health and
fertility to partner with the genomics community for efficiently applying
genomic tools for delivering solutions to important animal agricultural
problems. We expect the genomics community to play a major role in
developing partnerships to be able to support multiple projects in health,
growth and nutrition funded by the NIFA.

The vision in supporting larger projects was to help solve complex problems
Encompassing all the research, extension and education objectives. The onus 
of encouraging and promoting new talent will fall on the PD proposing these 
projects.
 
I have been focusing on 5 main areas. 

1. Overall funding for animal genomics research 
2. Promoting new talent and leadership. 
3. Genomics and bioinformatics infrastructure 
4. Efficient sharing of data and results from the publicly funded projects 
5. Identification of research areas that needs to targeted
 
Thank you, 

 
Lakshmi Kumar Matukumalli 
National Program Leader, 
Animal Breeding, Genetics and Genomics 
Division of Animal Systems 
Institute of Food Production and Sustainability 
National Institute of Food and Agriculture 
U.S. Department of Agriculture 
800 9th St. SW, Room 3443 
Washington, DC 20024 
E-mail:   lmatukumalli@nifa.usda.gov 
Office:    202-401-1766 
Cell:      202-841-6009 
Fax:       202-401-6488 
 

-----Original Message----- 
.From: Yang Da [mailto:yda@umn.edu] 
.Sent: Sunday, October 02, 2011 2:10 PM 
.To: Multiple Recipients of  
.Subject: RE: On Funding Research- The Scientist on a Nature Paper 

 
I would raise a question about what USDA research should focus on. The 
research focus of the past two funding cycles appears to be a huge 
departure from the past. Childhood obesity should be a popular subject but 
should that be addressed by NIH? Is the USDA research funding too small a 
bucket of water for a huge fire? Climate change seems to require a global 
effort but USDA is taking on that too, although climate change probably 
could be considered as 'agriculture'. 

Yang Da 
Department of Animal Science 
University of Minnesota

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