Bridge money, grants and career paths

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, but I’m tending towards crying. My Big-Arse-Veddy-Veddy Important Research Medical School who Runs the World started a bridge fund for people whose NIH grants “almost” got funded, so they don’t have to shut down between funding. This money is time limited, doesn’t pay PI salary (but will pay staff) and lets one collect more preliminary data. It was an internal response to the NIH Funding Crisis. Some analysis of money requested and spent was recently done, but not exactly made public. (of course). Why? Because it turns out that more than 75% (not sure accuracy of this number) went to Full Professors.

I suspect that beyond the usual idiotic reasons for this (basically senior people are more powerful, have bigger dicks, are bigger dicks, etc), there is an ugly, ugly demographic. Senior people won’t leave and its a “better investment” to get them funded than having them sitting around collecting their big-ass salaries. I bet junior (not funded) and mid-career (end of K-award or R03/R21) who miss funding are quietly told to go look for another job at a place “more suited for their talents and achievement”. Because there are junior people here who do get the big bucks (i.e., multiple R01’s), it’s much easier to try and divest the ones who are not clearly on the super-star track.

I call this eating your young, just like deranged and disturbed mice do.

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2 thoughts on “Bridge money, grants and career paths

  1. I work at a not so high and mighty university and they have the same idea, give bridge funding to the senior dicks and let the midcareer and junior people find another position. Although I do have to say that the junior people have more places to look for funding. Many of the societies, ACS, for example will accept applications only from people within the first few years of their faculty appt. So the mid career people I think are in huge trouble.

    As long as we have this “eat what you kill” attitude, independent investigator initiated science will continue to shrink.

  2. Your point about seeking out alternative funding sources is a good one. Sometimes, even that $20K a year is enough to get extra data and keep things going.

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