A newly recruited staff in a research group has her first meeting with the principal investigator, a full Professor, to discuss projects and tasks to carry out in the lab. During the conversation, it becomes apparent that the so-called principal investigator is nothing more than a former clinician turned science administrator that pretends leading a research group. There are no new projects coming from the mind of this principal investigator.
“Go to PubMed and find something interesting to work on”, says the Professor.
Astonished, the newly recruited lab member becomes silent and after a few awkward minutes leaves the room, in shock.
In a recent interview for the podcast series of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, Ira Mellman of Genentech expressed his views on the utility of science practiced at academic institutions. After an academic career at Rockefeller and Yale University, Mellman joined Genentech in 2007 where he is Vice President of Research Oncology. Mellman is a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 2011. The interview is about current challenges in the field of cancer immunotherapy. But things get a bit more controversial at the end. Scroll the audio featured below to -0:35 and you’ll hear this:
PNAS: “I asked Mellman whether his move from academia to industry has brought him closer to his goal of practicing people-centered science.”
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