Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Rescuing US Biomedical Research From its Systemic Flaws

For roughly four years now I have been on the "biomedical research needs reform bandwagon" tossing around heretical ideas like; there isn't enough funding to sustain the number of PhD and postdocs, alternative "non-traditional" career training, downfalls of hypercompetitiveness, etc.

If you have questions, use the comments section below!

When Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (RFUMS) School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS) started putting together its strategic plan (and didn't think it was prudent to involve any students or postdocs) I took it upon myself to get involved and get on that committee. There was plenty of resistance, but I firmly believe items #5-8 wouldn't exist if I wasn't involved.

I am thankful that the number of faculty, and well-know researchers that are getting involved is growing. This week a manuscript was published in PNAS that everyone involved in the "Graduate School Industrial Complex" needs to read.

The abstract reads; "The long-held but erroneous assumption of never-ending rapid growth in biomedical science has created an unsustainable hypercompetitive system that is discouraging even the most outstanding prospective students from entering our profession - and making it difficult for seasoned investigators to produce their best work. This is a recipe for long-term decline, and the problems cannot be solved with simplistic approaches. Instead, it is time to confront the dangers at hand and rethink some fundamental features of the US biomedical research ecosystem."

And the first paragraph of the Conclusion and Future Plans section; "The US research community cannot continue to ignore the warning signs of a system under great stress and at risk for incipient decline. We believe that the American public will continue its strong support for biomedical research and that larger budgets are possible, defensible, and desirable. However, because of structural flaws in the system, such increases can only partially ameliorate a worsening problem."

Here's hoping for reform in the next decade


I encourage everyone to use the comments section below! 
  • Lance D. Presser has a PhD in microbiology and immunology and is a public health laboratorian.
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