Friday Fighty Squirrel’s Academic Science News: It Ain’t Your Money, Kid
Let’s give it up for the House of Representatives passing the 21st Century Cures Act earlier this week putting some much needed funding into NIH. The bill lost some luster in 2015 and early 2016, bogged down by efforts to tie NIH funding to the opioid epidemic which was hitting a lot of congress critters hard as they returned home to campaign. Monday, the bill heads to the Senate so be sure you find and tweet your senators urging them to get behind the bill. Read more about it here.
An excellent cautionary note on all that money you’ll be raising from grateful patients comes out of University of Miami this week. Things got pretty ugly as a grateful patient’s $1.2M gift to his clinician went the way of too many charitable contributions: Into the pockets of an overzealous Sub-Dean of Happiness Destruction. In an effort to get enough funds together to provide severance to workers that were laid off during a financial crisis, nameless subdean (these folks are so smooth their names never get published – well done, nameless dean!) saw a pile of cash that could help balance the books. This somehow irritated Norman Block, MD, who was named as the recipient of a the gift given after saving his patient’s life.
Make no mistake, small squirrels, all financial gifts given by donors are not even close to yours. And the longer you sit on these discretionary funds, the more folks start to make plans for your money. I have been to lovely cocktail parties where endowed chairs were given to departments only to be taken away during the recruiting process. Not even kidding a little. As for Dr. Block, he’s now 78 and increasingly grumpy that his $250,000 salary has been taking annual 10% hits since he brought a lawsuit against UM asking for damages including lost wages, and principle and interest on the endowment. It’s weird how they cut your salary when you start going public with things. Maybe it’s just a coincidence?
Finally, here’s one from Michael J. Fox Foundation who decided to show an investigator that Alex P. Keaton is the boss. Georgetown researcher Charbel Moussa had his grant AND his source of a drug taken away from him after going toe to toe with one of the biggest fundraisers in Hollywood. After a highly successful pilot of a tyrosine kinase inhibitor with 12 patients, Moussa had a Phase II trial cued up, but the Fox Foundation had more than a few tweaks it wanted for the trial design. Moussa felt it would set his work back too far and that Foundation officials were overreaching into his experiments. The Fox Foundation disagreed and abruptly took their ball and went elsewhere. Aided by editors who put forth a scathing review of Moussa’s pilot, the scientists who wrote the review found themselves as the proud recipients of the Fox funds to run the trial. In case you missed that, Moussa published his paper in a journal, the editors bashed it and then got the money for themselves. Which is how we spell ‘ridiculous conflict of interest’ and ‘horrible life lesson’ in science.
But it’s December and we are sure all this bad behavior is behind us and it’s clear skies from here on out!