Spinal Cord, And Science Left Behind

This is some data from a spinal cord project that we worked on some time ago, and an example of science that was left behind as we chased projects that would fund the lab.  Most scientists have projects in their files that they’d like to get back to, or science that is particularly promising, but that they had to leave behind as funding needs evolved or grants come and go.  I know that we cannot do everything, but there are these projects that seem so incredibly promising and it hurts to let go.  These are projects that I would very much love to get back to, like the cancer work we have done, or simply to have the resources to assign people to these projects and see where they go, letting others build upon the work that we’ve already invested…

The data above is from a project that we started with organisms that can perform repair of their own spinal cords.  We were asking how they do this from a molecular and a metabolic standpoint, and if we could learn something from them that would apply to spinal cord injury.  Unfortunately, finding funding for this project was complicated by the move towards mouse and human models for biomedical research, and away from more diverse biological approaches, creating a climate that is harder to fund for biological systems that don’t fit into those categories.  I also had to make a decision to play to our strengths and invest my time writing grants for vision research that I felt would be awarded, and would continue to pay the salaries of the technicians and students in the lab.

That is one of the things that nobody really talks about… how much research, and good science we leave behind in the search for funding that will keep the lab going as trends change.  I think about how much money we spend as a country in science a lot, and wish that we had a commitment to science and discovery that rivaled our commitment to other things, like defense…

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