We need to fix tech transfer at universities

I’m stepping away this week from my ongoing series on how to improve federally-supported translational research programs to broach a sensitive topic that is long overdue for discussion. University tech transfer is broken, and its purpose and structure need to be re-thought. Of course, my criticisms are not of ALL tech transfer offices at all universities. I have not dealt with many of them, and there is huge variability between institutions; however, I have interacted…

Continue reading


A glimpse past the smoke and mirrors at Nature magazine

A colleague (thanks Elisa!) tipped me off to a new development at one of the most prestigious scientific journals: At some point over the last year, Nature magazine has begun to reveal the identities of some reviewers for their published letters and research articles. This is a big step toward transparency and openness in peer review, and I applaud the journal for taking this first step. There is obviously much more that can be done,…

Continue reading


A resourcing model for translational research

Last week I spoke out about changing institutional thinking on translational research programs. Specifically, I recommended the reduction of time from grant submission to award, allowances for greater flexibility in project spending, and support for private “start up” lab space outside of the university through direct funding to the company/PI.  Among the most compelling feedback we received was the suggestion by Drs. John Robertson and Luke Brzozowski at Techna, an institute of University Health Network…

Continue reading


New approaches to breaking down barriers in academic science

Imagine you are 12 years old and live in a small rural community in the 1970’s. Your schoolteacher assigns you the task of writing about ancient Egypt. Off you trot to the local library to see what details you might be able to extract from the four pages that the well-worn Encyclopedia Britannica has dedicated to the topic. Now imagine you live in Bloomsbury, central London with the British Library and the British Museum pretty…

Continue reading


Tackling the biggest gaps in translational research funding

In a previous post I highlighted a comprehensive list of recommendations for how to improve federally-supported translational research programs. In this series of posts I elaborate on these recommendations in the hope that they may help guide institutional thinking on translational research funding. Key points: Reduce time from grant submission to award Allow greater flexibility in project spending Subsidize private “start-up” lab space outside the university through direct funding to company/PI The time between grant…

Continue reading


PREreview: Get it done sooner to avoid double review

In my last post, I highlighted a new tool for driving open debate on manuscripts prior to publication in peer-reviewed journals (PREreview).  Subsequent to that post, we’ve now undertaken our first scientific discussion (typically called “journal clubs) of a “preprint” manuscript. The most critical thing in this process, however, seems to be speed. Initially, we sent around four bioRxiv papers for the students and postdocs to choose from and the votes cast actually picked a…

Continue reading


Really? We’re going to tax students now?

I thought it necessary to interrupt my regularly scheduled post this week to highlight tax legislation that was recently passed by the United States House of Representatives last week (a similar plan is currently under consideration at in the United States Senate). Specifically, this legislation is concerning in how it potentially increases the tax burden for university students, faculty, and staff, while depleting resources for financial aid, research and teaching. For further background, you’ll find…

Continue reading


Addressing gender inequality in science: Male role models wanted

“I shouldn’t be here,” said David Kent to a mostly female audience in Berlin which barely filled the first few rows of the lecture theatre. Dr. Kent, a scientist based in Cambridge, U.K. was referring to the struggle by the organizers to find a male research group leader, working in Germany, who was willing to talk about gender equality in science. Herein lies the problem. On October 9, 2017 the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular…

Continue reading


New idea for driving scientific debate in your journal club: PREreview

The eLife folks directed me to a very interesting link the other day — an article published on eLife Labs that encouraged scientists across the world to engage with research articles before they have been peer reviewed. (For those who do not know eLife Labs, it’s the place where all the new and cool things that try to change the scientific publishing racket are brought to the fore — I encourage a regular look-see!) Preprint servers such as arXiv and bioRxiv are…

Continue reading


New idea for driving scientific debate in your journal club: PREreview

The eLife folks directed me to a very interesting link the other day — an article published on eLife Labs that encouraged scientists across the world to engage with research articles before they have been peer reviewed. (For those who do not know eLife Labs, it’s the place where all the new and cool things that try to change the scientific publishing racket are brought to the fore — I encourage a regular look-see!) Preprint servers such as arXiv and bioRxiv are…

Continue reading