|Drawing by Sean Adams,
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Friday, July 13, 2012
By now, nearly everyone who is part of the biomedical workforce has read about the Biomedical Research Workforce Working Group's report and its recommendations. The leader of the working group is Shirley Tilghman, President of Princeton University and my fellow alum, molecular biologist, and Canadian. In the past few years, she has done more than perhaps any other person to improve the plight of trainee scientists.
The report's recommendations are covered in the linked article, so I won't rehash them here. They include: increased postdoc pay and benefits, a reduced biomedical workforce, more graduate students supported by training grants, and education of graduate students and postdocs about alternative careers.
I want to instead focus on the quotes attributed to Bob Horvitz, Nobel laureate and MIT geneticist. He opposes the recommendations of the report and gives his reasons. Here are two of them from the article:
"One wants to be sure that the principal investigators, who are supposed to be doing the research, continue to have enough flexibility to be able to support the research they want to do," he said. Taking away that flexibility, he argued, could reduce research productivity.Followed later by:
But ACD member Horvitz was skeptical. The money to raise postdoc salaries "has to come from somewhere,” he said, and given NIH's current budget woes, it might be impractical to raise postdoc pay. If PIs were forced to make do with fewer (but better paid) postdocs, he argued, lab productivity would probably decline.