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Grants: Designed to Break Your Spirit

The story of "K" in a PLoS Biology Perspective article this week illustrates how difficult the current funding system makes life for new PIs. "To expect a young scientist to recruit and train students and postdocs as well as producing and publishing new and original work within two years (in order to fuel the next grant application) is preposterous," writes Peter Lawrence. He suggests that grant applications become shorter so that scientists writing, and reviewing, them spend less time on the bureaucracy and more time on science.

Adaptive Complexity's Michael White weighs in to say that the grant system has its "own peculiar logic" that is "brutal" and "discouraging" as the three-year grant cycle quickly goes boom-and-bust. "Whatever we do, we need to start taking the long view. Good research, in many cases, simply does not operate on a cycle that corresponds to the 3-year lab business cycle," he writes.

Larry Moran at The Sandwalk bemoans that no one has done anything to fix this known problem. "If the system isn't working then let's fix it," he says.

There's a related discussion at ScienceInsider in which the blogger Eli Kintisch discusses this Perspective article and other early career issues with scientists Christina Smolke and Natalie Mahowald.

The Scan

Alzheimer's Risk Gene Among Women

CNN reports that researchers have found that variants in MGMT contribute to Alzheimer's disease risk among women but not men.

Still Hanging Around

The Guardian writes that persistent pockets of SARS-CoV-2 in the body could contribute to long COVID.

Through a Little Spit

Enteric viruses like norovirus may also be transmitted through saliva, not just the fecal-oral route, according to New Scientist.

Nature Papers Present Method to Detect Full Transcriptome, Viruses Infecting Asgard Archaea, More

In Nature this week: VASA-seq approach to detect full transcriptome, analysis of viruses infecting Asgard archaea, and more.