The Burrill Report (April 28, 2014)
The success of U.S. biomedical research threatens to become its undoing, according to a group of leading scientists writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They argue reform is needed to address what’s become an unsustainable, hypercompetitive system that makes it difficult for seasoned investigators to do their best work and discourages the most promising young scientists from pursuing careers in research. We spoke to Bruce Alberts, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco and one of the authors of the piece, about the imbalance in the supply and demand for researchers, the perverse incentives created in the current system, and what steps should be taken to remedy the situation.
ORIGINAL PAPER UNDER DISCUSSION HERE:
The long-held but erroneous assumption of never-ending rapid growth in biomedical science has created an unsustainable hypercompetitive system that is discouraging even the most outstanding prospective students from entering our profession—and making it difficult for seasoned investigators to produce their best work. This is a recipe for long-term decline, and the problems cannot be solved with simplistic approaches. Instead, it is time to confront the dangers at hand and rethink some fundamental features of the US biomedical research ecosystem.