Biomedical science is not a game for the young?

The National Institutes of Health have helpfully posted summary information about their funding patterns. It is much more revealing of the training patterns and mentoring of young investigators at our academic centers than any specific NIH policy. It is evident that whatever your terminal degree, your age at first R01 is 42-44, a full 10 years older than the age of first R01 in 1970. PhD's only are 2 years younger on average than MD's and MD-PhD's are remarkably no older than the MD's (which was not the case in 1970). What does this say about the capability of our research workforce to be energetically innovative? Are we drawing from the right pool of investigators or is there something fundamentally wrong in the institutionalized career path leading to an R01?



Who are the right practictioners of medicine?

This report from Haiti is a reminder that doctors are not always the answer to a healthcare need. We might be well-served by a national discussion of what are the properties of healthcare practitioners that we believe we are seeking to maximize and whether these are well matched to our needs as a society and as patients. It is a discussion which will also inform budgets.


Positive Peer Pressure

Can we use Internet-borne viral messages to counter biological viruses? Our very own Ben Reis is recognized by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for his Facebook application:

The “I’m a Flu Fighter” Facebook application takes users through four steps. In the first step, “Choose My Character,” users choose between a superhero, a doctor, a virus behind bars, or a cartoon syringe to represent themselves as a flu fighter. Then, users set their status by sharing whether they got the flu vaccine or plan to, and how it was (Could be better, Fine, Good, Great!). Next, users can send invites to their friends challenging them to get vaccinated. Lastly, users are taken to a page with resources about flu such as the flu vaccine locater. The visibility of users’ information as Flu Fighters is controlled by users through their privacy settings.