Saturday, October 16, 2004

Thank fook its Friday

The end of a spectactularly unproductive week. My diary says "start writing grant". Well I started writing this blog, but unfortunately this will not keep my staff in employment.

Oh my god, only 2 weeks to go before the deadline! Arghhhhhhhhhh! This is urgent, so I will start next week.

In the meantime, I have been looking at a manuscript that if it was a puppy, would have been put down. I am middle author among a bunch of medics. None of them seem to be that bothered to do any writing but still want their name in lights. It describes a clinical trial of a new treatment, that unfortunately does not produce better results than any conventional treatment. The first author is desperate to get this paper out and has tried some minor surgery. Today my job is to rebuild it, make it better than before, stronger, faster, errrrr .... making it leap buildings at a single bound. I think I am getting my TV quotes mixed up but you get the picture. Two hours later and I realise that the only way to make it better is to tell the truth. On a cost:benefit analysis, this treatment is actually worse than than what preceded it. However it is more likely the conclusion will be that "more studies are warranted".

Three more meetings. My new research assistant (in her 2nd week of work) showed me her results today. They were completely negative. Nevertheless she knew why the experiment hadn't worked and had thought about what to do next, so I was happy. I only wish that my post-doc had similar powers of analysis.

I then spent some time with my PhD student. She had been staring down the microscope and seen some strange looking cells. I reassured her that it was normal for cells to have little legs and to dance everytime the radio came on. I don't think my counselling was very effective and I can see her arriving at work on Monday with two dark rings round her eyes.

Final meeting was with the technology transfer officer for the University. She has been helping me file a patent. Now she wants us to make a joint application for a business development grant. Over 100K of "free" money. I can already envisage fact finding missions to the Caribbean and a state of the art laptop. Sounds too good to be true and there must be a catch. Well there is, we have to come up with a business plan for a non-existant product, including proposed licensing opportunities. Even worse, the deadline is 2 weeks away. Wait a minute that's the deadline for the research grant. Doh!! Decisions, decisions.


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