Posts Tagged ‘Academia’

The business of medicine…

August 24, 2014

In my previous blog I discussed the business of science  and why science itself is not,  and should never be, considered a business.  Today, as we see the widening Ebola epidemic spreading throughout West Africa I find myself thinking the same thing about medicine.

Medicine is not a business…

As in science,  there are businesses surrounding medicine.  Big pharma and biotech being far from the least among them.  As  I pointed out before, the science of pharma and biotech must not mix with the business unless you want to be buying hi-tech snake oil when you go to the pharmacy.

But there is another component here, often overlooked and currently underfunded even in developed nations:  the role of a strong public health program and the public funding for basic research.


Learning On-Line: The good, the bad, and the ugly

September 1, 2013

Continuing with Barack Obama’s theme of making access to college more affordable for more Americans, I decided to explore the issue of taking classes online. What’s good, what’s bad and what is downright unacceptable. My knee-jerk reaction had been that this type of vehicle is fine for some forms of CE and for “light learning” of the sort that I have done on

Speaking as someone who has had to reinvent myself more than once, I have found on-line learning to be a mixed bag. Sometimes an online tutorial on a site like was all that I needed to move forward in an area where I was stuck.

Although is hardly a substitute for a university level course, its the only online training that I have any personal frame of reference with in the capacity of a student. Nevertheless, from that experience, I learned several things:


When publish or perish bumps up against pedagogy – Part II:

August 30, 2013

Part II: Academia’s other mission: the race to publish or perish

In Part I of this series, I outlined why skyrocketing tuition costs didn’t seem to square with the cost of actually educating students.   The second part of this series deals with “other” mission of academia and how this side of the equation may account in good part for the increased costs.


When publish or perish bumps up against pedagogy – Part I

August 29, 2013

Part I:  Has the cost of pedagogy really risen beyond core inflation?

We have all heard the headlines.  College tuition is skyrocketing.  The trajectory is indeed unsustainable.  And for good or ill, it was undoubtedly a key motivating force behind Barack Obama’s recent push to control rising costs by incentivizing a mean and lean model that produces measurable results.  Ok, so once again we are trying to “incorporate” academia using the Walmart plan.  To that end Obama has also encouraged colleges and universities to step up the online coursework opportunities.

In truth, the speech seemed more like warmed-over pablum than thoughtfully conceived policy.  This is mostly because it failed to address the underlying issues that contribute to exponential cost increases while simply attempting to squeeze out more “product” for less money in an already plundered pedagogical system.


STEM Careers – The New York Times misses the point – yet again…

November 6, 2011

The Nov. 4, 2011  New York Times article on STEM (science – technology –  engineering – math) career paths shows clearly and succinctly that NO ONE is engaging in true investigative journalism anymore.  The article by Christopher Drew, Why Science Majors Change Their Minds (It’s Just So Darn Hard) shows an appalling lack of insight into the issues facing flocks of interested and engaged science majors. Did this author spend five minutes in a laboratory talking to scientists working in the trenches?  No.

Yes, science and engineering are HARD.   OF COURSE ITS HARD...Science is fascinating in the abstract – but “doing science” is never easy.  If it were easy we would have cures for cancer, heart disease, obesity and all infectious disease coming out of our ears. We’d have a shuttle to Mars where people would take vacations and someone would be working on a Warp engine to go faster than the speed of light by now.  I know its hard because I have a Ph.D. from a highly regarded medical school  and was a molecular biologist by trade for over 15 years.


Thomas Friedman needs to STOP giving career advice to our youth…

July 16, 2011

Thomas Friedman has been offering career advice for far too long.  This week he was at it again  with “The Start-Up of You” in The New York Times. Thankfully, our youth do not seem to have been listening….and woe be to those that actually would because they would find themselves choosing between corrugated cardboard and a plastic bag for their digs.

For years Friedman was crowing about S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) career paths.  He loudly bemoaned the loss of American students in these fields while he beat the drums for loosening H1-B visa rules for foreign nationals so they could further crowd out the few American Nationals that had clung to their jobs.   Friedman never connected the dots between the flood of foreign scientists and the massive glut of Ph.D.’s in America.  He never paid attention the gutting of salaries – the natural result of a glut because he didn’t dig a little deeper for the facts.  I doubt the man ever stepped foot inside an actual  lab.