Emerging from lab only to be blinded by the sun and smacked like Reality’s bitch

This is one of those “what the hell am I doing here” weeks where my job seems to be both 1) fully self-aware and 2) malevolent. I swear, it’s coming after me with the all the intensity of a starving, rabid boar in a field of truffles.


First kick, to the knee– the last paper from my disseration was turned down. I sort of expected this. The impact factor for the journal is only about 3.5, but it is THE niche publication for hard-core neuroanatomical studies. While the paper was all negative data, even negative data is important. Accordingly my experiments were very thorough and the paper is directly relevant to women’s health. I thought it would at least garner an “accepted pending revisions” grade. No such luck.
Second kick, to the head– the R01 grant that one of our collaborators put in, the one that we had intended to use to split my work from my current employer, didnt get funded. Worse yet, it didn’t even get reviewed!!! Things have gone wrong with this grant since it’s inception; it got a first round score of 182, falling just outside fundable range. We revised and resubmitted and it got triaged, which I think is ridiculously rude. We revised again, and it didn’t get recommended to committee this time either. I’m a little miffed. Even in this funding climate, we should have gotten a full review by the committee; every concern was addressed and we had quite a bit of preliminary data. Ok, I’m a little biased.
Third kick of the week, to the groin– involves an ongoing struggle to find transgenic mice of the correct phenotype. The mice express the appropriate genotype but that apparently just won’t translate into protein (pun fully intended). This morning, I looked at the tissue I had spent the last couple weeks working on and confirmed that apparently no, not a single mouse will be expressing the correct phenotype. Six months’ work down the drain.
Some weeks, science just isn’t much fun….. oh well, at least now I can do some more blogging.

2 Responses

  1. Did the revised grant get reassigned to a new study section? I’ve been the victim of such scored-to-unscored debacles. Also, study sections are under increased pressure to unscore a full 50% of those grants assigned to them. With the benefit of the doubt now going to new investigators and people responding to RFAs, some very, very good grants are falling into the unscored range. Have a good chat with your SRA and program officer.

  2. Funny you should mention that. It did get reassigned after the first round. Plus, the PI is a new investigator to this field; typically she publishes toxicology/endocrinology studies funded by NSF. She’s never had an NIH grant. She wants to change over to study hormonal effects on neural systems.
    The thing that makes me suspicious is that she’s using mice that only a handful of labs have. The originator of this particular mouse just happens to sit on the new study section.

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