On Jan 27, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order banning the citizens of 7 countries from obtaining US entry visas for the next 90 days. Since the announcement, the news media have devoted a large portion of their coverage to the ban and its political ramifications. There have been arguments made by both sides that the ban will make our country safer, while others have argued that this executive order will result in the weakening of our country and bolstering of our enemies. As a physician-scientist who was born in Iran and immigrated to the US, I will stay away from the politics of this executive order; rather, I want to discuss the impact of the immigration ban on scientific discourse, education, and research programs, and how it may influence the dissemination of knowledge to physicians and scientists in low- and middle-income countries. I will use my own experience as an example of how the educational and scientific systems in this country benefit those who strive to learn in a free and intellectually stimulating environment.
The extramural General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) program has been funded for more than 50 years, first by the National Center for Research Resources, NIH, and more recently as part of the Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA) program through the newly formed National Center for Advancing Translation Sciences (NCATS). The GCRCs represent the federally funded laboratories that employ a highly trained cadre of research nurses, dietitians, and other support staff and in which generations of clinical investigators trained and performed groundbreaking human studies that advanced medical science and improved clinical care. Without the opportunity for adequate discussion, NCATS has now stopped funding these Research Centers. In this “eulogy,” we review the origins and history of the GCRCs, their contributions to the advancement of medicine, and the recent events that have essentially defunded them. We mourn their loss.
David G. Nathan, David M. Nathan
The 5th anniversary of the Fukushima disaster and the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, the two most catastrophic nuclear accidents in history, both occurred recently. Images of Chernobyl are replete with the international sign of radioactive contamination (a circle with three broad spokes radiating outward in a yellow sign). In contrast, ongoing decontamination efforts at Fukushima lack international warnings about radioactivity. Decontamination workers at Fukushima appear to be poorly protected against radiation. It is almost as if the effort is to make the Fukushima problem disappear. A more useful response would be to openly acknowledge the monumental problems inherent in managing a nuclear plant disaster. Lessons from Chernobyl are the best predictors of what the Fukushima region of Japan is coping with in terms of health and environmental problems following a nuclear catastrophe.
Andrew R. Marks
Fraudulent business practices, such as those leading to the Enron scandal and the conviction of Bernard Madoff, evoke a strong sense of public outrage. But fraudulent or dishonest actions are not exclusive to the realm of big corporations or to evil individuals without consciences. Dishonest actions are all too prevalent in everyone’s daily lives, because people are constantly encountering situations in which they can gain advantages by cutting corners. Whether it’s adding a few dollars in value to the stolen items reported on an insurance claim form or dropping outlier data points from a figure to make a paper sound more interesting, dishonesty is part of the human condition. Here, we explore how people rationalize dishonesty, the implications for scientific research, and what can be done to foster a culture of research integrity.
Nina Mazar, Dan Ariely
As academic physician-scientists, one of the most important things we do is mentor young trainee-scientists. There obviously is no one right way to mentor or a set of rules one can follow; it’s a very personal matter, and very much depends on one’s personality. For much of my career, I gave very little thought as to how I mentored my trainees or to whether I was any good at it. Like many investigators, perhaps, I was just too busy with the daily activities of research to consider how I was guiding my students. Here, I take a look back and reflect on my experiences as a mentor and the factors that I believe contribute to the success of trainees as independent scientists.
Robert J. Lefkowitz
As the US addresses its budget dilemma, the easiest items to cut are those with the longest-term payoff. Research stands out among this group. Biomedical research has already been markedly reduced, and further reductions appear to be in store. As a frequent witness in Congressional hearings on such matters, here I discuss the challenge of assessing the value of investments in biomedical research.
Norman R. Augustine
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