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The Black Hole

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 | APR 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 | APR 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 | APR 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 | APR 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 | APR 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 | MAR 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 | MAR 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 | MAR 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 | FEB 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 | FEB 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 | FEB 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 | FEB 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 | JAN 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 | JAN 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 […]

BY JONATHAN THON | JAN 14 2013

Dear readers, with a new year comes new challenges. The pressures on young scientists today, while certainly greater than they were last year, are quickly coming to a head. With the upcoming American sequestration discussions in March, and an improving economy, it is more important now than ever that the current structure of academic science […]

BY DAVID KENT | JAN 07 2013

Happy 2013 to our readers! We’ll start this year with a summary of our autumnal posts capturing the third quarter of activity at our new University Affairs home. Both Jonathan and I have enjoyed the transition and are looking forward to a year packed with good discussion and constructive solutions. We have several guest posts […]

BY DAVID KENT | DEC 12 2012

Further underscoring the acute strain on human resources in academic circles, Elsevier has just announced a unique program to help out researchers who find themselves in between positions (thanks for the heads up C!). While many parents are no doubt crying about how their clever child with a PhD bounces from one short-term contract to […]

BY JONATHAN THON | DEC 03 2012

I received my doctorate from the University of British Columbia under Dr. Dana Devine (2004-2008) and currently hold joint appointments within the Hematology Division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. I am in my fifth year of a postdoctoral fellowship, having won an ASH Fellow Scholar Award and more recently […]

BY DAVID KENT | NOV 26 2012

Today we are very excited to have a guest post from one of Canada’s new Banting Fellows, who has asked to remain anonymous. You may be surprised to read this person’s assessment of Canada’s “Cadillac” award for postdocs. The most challenging question, from our perspective, that our blogger raises is: Are universities buying the fellowships? […]