Thursday, November 1, 2007
A Lost Generation
- Over the past generation, the age at which American biomedical researchers with PhD degrees succeed in obtaining their first R01 award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has increased from 34.2 to 41.7 years of age.
- As time goes on, ever-larger proportions of NIH funds are diverted to funding research collaboratives of various sizes to the detriment of small, investigator-initiated projects. However, the history of the last half-century demonstrates in a compelling fashion that much of the innovation in American biomedical research comes from young researchers working in relatively small, highly mobile, creative research groups.
- Only 10% of submitted grant applications are funded in NIH.
- These factors, when taken together, have made careers in biomedical research increasingly unattractive for many young people. Imagine the prospects of predoctoral students starting out in their early 20s, who confront a wait of two decades until they can procure their first R01 grant, become scientifically independent, and flex their scientific muscles for the first time.
Robert Allan Weinberg is a Daniel K. Ludwig Professor for Cancer Research at MIT and a founding member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. He is best known for his first discoveries of the first human oncogene Ras and the first tumor supressor gene Rb.
Sources: Cell and Wikipedia
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