The economy recession is most likely over, says who?

The economy recession is most likely over, or so says the federal reserve chairman Ben Bernanke. Do you feel it? Are you seeing increased job opportunities when you leave your current lab or security if you have a post-postdoc position? In our industry, where the health of the economy is mostly measured by research budgets of individual labs or research groups, occasionally by budgets for contracting or licensing fees, the change, if any, is still hard-to-find. But hiring at academic institutes like UCSD seems to have picked up lately, probably due to addition grants from the Obama administration’s stimulus programs. At the same time, individual NIH R1 grants have been creeping up to easily around 1 million a year, program grants 3-5 millions. With more stimulus money kicking in to academic labs this fall, it is expected that the situation will further improve. Comments welcome.

Notes about recent jobs in Pharma/Biotech: since our last blog about massive Pfizer layoff of scientists in 02-09-09, a major layoff in the big pharma sector came from Merck, which announced on 06-11-09 that it would cut 16,000 jobs after completing its merger with Shering Plough. On 09-14-09, Eli Lilly reported job cots of 5,500 or roughly 14% of its work force. There are areas in the country where people report about the economy as “I went to 2 grocery stores and 3 discount department stores over one weekend, and you could do cannon shooting practice in there without hitting a person.” Again comments welcome here, if you believe in a turnaround, or it is all doom and gloom to you. Btw, the History channel has been cranking up the 2012 theories for a couple of months now, if you like the doom and gloom theories.

Note added in proof: As reported in Science yesterday, “a new analysis of the grantsmaking process at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) lifts the veil on how many grant proposals are funded even though they fall below a cutoff based on peer-review scores…at least 19% of NIH’s basic research portfolio is funded for reasons that go beyond quality.”

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January 8, 2010

New NIH ARRA grants (RC4)

    The amount of awards distributed will be dependent on the number of meritorious applications that NIH receives. The nature and scope of research is expected to vary; therefore, the size of each award will also vary. Only applications with total budgets greater than $500,000 per year for no more than three years will be eligible for consideration. Applications are due March 15, 2010. The funding will use the NIH RC4 award mechanism.

    The NIH suggests the following topics for the thematic research areas.

    1. Applying genomics and other high-throughput technologies: defining all of the genes, proteins, or major pathways for model organisms; DNA sequencing; microarray technology; nanotechnology; small-molecule screening capabilities; new imaging modalities; and computational biology.
    2. Translating basic science discoveries into new and better treatments: projects that sustain the drug development pipeline and attract partnerships; and pathways for gene therapy, biologics, stem cells, and iPS cells.
    3. Using science to enable health care reform: clinical developments to reduce health disparities; analyze social and behavioral factors, large-scale prospective populations, comparative effectiveness, cost-effective prevention and personalized medicine; pharmacogenomics; health information technology; health research economics to enhance safety, quality, and efficiency.
    4. Focusing on global health: prevention and intervention strategies to address infectious and parasitic diseases, chronic non-communicable diseases and injuries, and other diseases affecting the developing world.
    5. Reinvigorating the biomedical research community: cultivate new collaborations, assemble multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary research teams, strengthen research capacity, broaden research base, recruit new investigators and expertise, and retain talent.

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