In the boiler room of the Titanic
In today’s Science Dr. Henry Bourne and Dr. Mark Lively write an editorial arguing that the current state of biomedical research funding is like the Titanic heading for a collision with an iceberg. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/337/6093/390.full If the biomedical enterprise is the Titanic, then current graduate students are like workers in the boiler room. We have a repetitive job to do in a windowless room that smells funny and is full of toxins. Putting the metaphor aside, graduate students should pay special attention to the issues in the editorial- what is the state of future funding? who will provide funding? for what will funding agencies pay? I find it easy to focus on the immediate goals- what controls do I need to run? will this get published? will I ever graduate? However, the issues facing the field are important because graduate school should be training for the next step, and the best way to train is to know what that next step will look like. Some might point out- if we are in the boiler room of the Titanic our job is to make sure that the engines are powered enough that the ship can turn when needed to avoid the next iceberg.