Jun 29 2009 Published by under Synaptic Misfires

The call, half roar, half terrifying honk of annoyance, echoed across the room. From the depths of a warm, comfortable nest, the monster stirred. Something was prodding it out of its lurid, murky dreams.
"brrt, brrt, brrt...
...brrt, brrt, brrt..."

Snarling, the beast surged from the bed, lunging over to the alarm clock placed irritatingly just out of reach. Awakened from its rest, the animal dragged itself around the room, uttering incomprehensible grunts which made the small, furry carnivores huddled around the nest scatter in panic.
The beast, sight blurred, flung itself under a powerful stream of hot water, yelping in a distinctly higher pitch as the water shocked it awake. But it still wasn't enough. Now passably clean, the monster shuffled through the morning routine, feeding fluffy carnivorous mammals, snatching the femur from the previous meal's leavings for lunch, and lunging out the door.

Three cups of coffee later...
*bzzt* *twitch* Good MORNING!!!! Hello, world, Scicurious here! How is everyone! I hope your day just keeps getting nicer and nicer and nicer...
No really, still not awake.
But a lot of things happened over the weekend, and one should probably mention them.

First of all, that rather incomprehensible message on Saturday. Turns out Sci got involved in this pseudo-pyramid scheme where this girl Jodi tried to drag this guy Jason into a mutually respectful declaration of lifetime commitment. And he said yes! Sci is proud to have been involved in such a lovely, geeky protestation of affection. w00t!
Secondly, Sci read this article in the Sunday NY Times on Cancer Research, and how the system is apparently broken because we are funding incremental steps in research rather than really high risk ventures. Orac has a good response to this at Respectful Insolence. Good stuff at Science Based Medicine as well.
Sci is not entirely sure how she feels about it. High risk implies high failure, and I think many people would be happier if their tax revenues were spent on incremental research which is, on the whole, more successful, rather than a lot of spectacular dead ends (and a few really good things). At the same time, there are a lot of good ideas out there that don't get funded due to lack of preliminary data. And by "preliminary data", I mean having 1/4 of a five year grant already completed prior to submission of the grant. Where does the money for that preliminary data come from? From previous funded grants, of course, all of which had work that was 1/4 completed prior to submission. The system definitely encourages really SAFE work, work that we all know will most probably work, and produce a series of safe papers.
But. Incremental work gets stuff DONE. It finds stuff out, and it does it in such a way as to build upon previous work, and create a body of knowledge which can then be applied across a large number of diseases and disciplines. In the long run, incremental research may be a lot more helpful than research that makes huge leaps in one field, but nobody knows how it works. If we don't know how it works, we can't replicate it, and we can't apply it to other fields. Incremental research is very careful and meticulous, and produces drugs that are far more likely to be safe, more likely to be effective, and more likely to succeed and be diversified into other diseases or conditions. So incremental research in the long run, is the better way to go. But it still galls everyone that you have to come up with the money to perform half your grant before you can even try to get it funded.
And on the subject of the fruits of incremental research, Dr. Pal has posted a continuation of his series on cancer. They're all great reads!! Check them out.
I'd also encourage everyone to check out Terra Sigillata, where Abel has a post on staying sober in an alcohol industry. It's a really interesting issue based on the NY Times article.
And finally, there's this grrl. She wants to go to Antarctica. And she would be FABULOUS there. And she could use your vote. So go, make an account (it's super quick and easy), and vote for her!!! Think of the amazing pics she'd bring back...
And now Sci better get some work done. I hear I have my work cut out for me... but still there could be more!! Submit to Open Lab! Find your latest and greatest! Heck, find MY latest and greatest!!!

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