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THE BLACK HOLE

By DAVID KENT | June 17 2013

When I was in the early stages of my undergraduate degree, I thought long and hard about doing an MBA in combination with science. It seemed to me that the sector was underdeveloped in Canada and good science training was going to be essential to a successful career. I was motivated to go out and create […]

By JONATHAN THON | June 10 2013

It is not news that the National Institutes of Health in the United States have faced extraordinary budgetary uncertainties this year as a result of an incredibly fluid fiscal situation. As the sequestration here continues to detrimentally impact American science, I thought I would take this opportunity to hold up the developing funding situation in […]

By DAVID KENT | June 05 2013

People often ask me what I would do if I were in charge of fellowships for Canadian trainees. In response, I will often slip into my usual refrain of making investment in people the basic tenet of any fellowship program. As it currently stands, the career track for academics artificially selects for those that can […]

By JONATHAN THON | May 24 2013

The recent Jumpstart Our Business Act, which U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law in March, allows crowdfunding to be used to sell shares to the public. While there are strict limits to how much “unsophisticated investors” will be allowed to commit to a single company, companies will be able to sell shares to individual […]

By DAVID KENT | May 13 2013

A little while back I wrote a blog post called “Shorter PhDs and more active thesis committees,” which proposed that PhD programs finish in 4 to 5 years and that thesis committees take a more active role in the future career options of their students. The formal degree structure permits such suggestions and their broad application, […]

By JONATHAN THON | May 06 2013

Investment opportunities such as those provided by crowdfunding websites inevitably carry risks, and the major issue raised in the fallout of America’s recent JOBS Act and reiterated in response to my last article by one of our own readers, has been the unnecessary and wide-ranging exposure of public investors to scam artists. Indeed, investment platforms […]

By DAVID KENT | April 29 2013

Before we get to today’s post, a final reminder for postdoctoral fellows to help inform the policy that governs their status, salaries and future opportunities in Canada by filling out the CAPS postdoctoral survey. Earlier this month, I wrote a UA news article on its importance and encourage you all to read through it and forward to […]

By JONATHAN THON | April 22 2013

As tighter budgets and struggling economies drive a need for new sources of funding, the internet is proving to be invaluable in raising awareness of projects across previously closed regional and national boundaries. A potentially game-changing evolution of social media is the very recent emergence of crowd funding for basic research. Crowd funding is the […]

By DAVID KENT | April 16 2013

It’s the one-year anniversary of the Black Hole moving over to University Affairs. Jonathan and I are very pleased with the added exposure and it’s been a real treat to work with Léo, Peggy and company over the last 12 months – Happy Anniversary! We hope that our readers have enjoyed the content and that […]

By JONATHAN THON | April 08 2013

One way of recovering costs for federally funded research is by having governments proportionately included in intellectual property agreements resulting from their angel investments. While not all projects are ultimately profitable, funds allocated to university investigators for basic research should be regarded as a diversified investment portfolio from which successful ventures offset risk. As lab-bench […]

By DAVID KENT | April 02 2013

Each year, our site gets flooded with visitors looking for information on taxation policy with respect to Canadian postdocs. Of course, much of this enthusiasm was sparked by the decision in Budget 2010 of the Canadian Government to stipulate specifically that the 2006 scholarship exemption would not be applicable to postdoctoral fellowships. Some of our readers […]

By DAVID KENT | March 25 2013

It seems that my last post created a bit of a stir and unfortunately I was away for a week and didn’t catch up to the comments right away. I think it’s important based on those comments to clarify a few things about my perspective on this before going into ways that we can manage […]

By JONATHAN THON | March 18 2013

I thought I would take the opportunity this week to share with you a personal story regarding a recent academic milestone. My research focuses on platelet production, and earlier this year I filed a provisional patent, through Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School on a platelet bioreactor I developed that recapitulates human bone […]

By DAVID KENT | March 05 2013

There has been a lot of rumbling over the last few years about how poorly compensated postdoctoral fellows are and how the system churns out too many doctoral students. Many have suggested that the best solution is to trim the number of positions and increase the salaries of those remaining. However, I suspect that many of […]

By JONATHAN THON | February 25 2013

The NIH on Thursday issued a notice titled, “NIH Operation Plan in the Event of a Sequestration.” For those of you following the sequestration talks here in the United States, the following should come as no surprise. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is facing an 8.2 percent across-the-board cut in future years (5.3 percent […]

By DAVID KENT | February 19 2013

I just finished a bit of a marathon read which gives advice to early career researchers on how to best situate themselves for success in research. The guide, Charting a course for a successful research career was written by Emeritus Professor Alan Johnson and offers some good advice for early career researchers. Its audience is extremely broad (international early career researchers […]

By JONATHAN THON | February 11 2013

In order to streamline career advancement, more effectively meet employment demand for the biomedical research industry, and reign in ballooning administrative costs, I propose the following paradigm shift: at academic research institutions relying primarily on federal funding to support their principle investigators, let’s do away with the five-year funding cycle and create two major career […]

By DAVID KENT | February 04 2013

My last post generated a fair amount of commentary both here on this site and on Reddit. It seems that many people have experienced exactly what NIH Director Francis Collins described: they’ve been made to feel like failures for leaving academia. If the vast majority of PhDs and postdoctoral fellows will not become tenure-track academics, […]

By JONATHAN THON | January 28 2013

Research proposals are by necessity narrow in focus, and once awarded require that funds be allocated as described in the proposal on penalty of having these funds withdrawn. When funding rates are low it becomes increasingly important for investigators to demonstrate that their research proposals are unlikely to fail and therefore constitute a good investment. […]

By DAVID KENT | January 21 2013

Over the years, our site has had many articles on two major themes: the education and training of scientists, and the effective transfer of knowledge between academic science and other sectors (e.g., industry, policy, science outreach). Last week, Nature published a short interview with NIH Director Francis Collins concerning the policies being adopted to improve the […]