I. Am. Knackered.
The past few weeks have been so, so full… in the not-so-emotionally full sense of the word. As a very comfortable and confident introvert (who turns on the extrovert on a daily basis), three solid weeks culminating in 7 solid nonstop days just slays me.
We had our third annual Alzheimer’s disease conference this weekend. I’m not sure if I’ve ever explained this gem (it truly is a gem) - it’s one of the side projects I am in charge of (slash do entirely on my own, which is a bit of an issue). It’s actually a great concept: we invite 15 ‘early career’ researchers in Alzheimer’s (early career in this case means they have their PhD, most have done a postdoc, but they’re not fully ‘launched’ yet) who are nominated by either past attendees or senior leaders in the field. Each of them prepares a grant application for how they would use $50,000 of research funding, they submit them, review and score each other’s proposals, and then come to Charleston for the weekend. During the conference, they each present their grant, and then we hold a ‘mock study section’, which is a boiled down version of what the NIH really does to peer-review grants and decide who gets funding. At the end, three to four of the attendees walk away with funding to do what they proposed.
It’s great 1) because it’s an extremely expedited way to get funding to researchers who are talented and need to get started, 2) because it brings together researchers from different fields who all work on Alzheimer’s (usually imaging researchers don’t necessarily mix with biochemists and biochemists don’t necessarily mix with geneticists etc) and encourages them to collaborate, 3) because it strongly pushes for them to think of outside-of-the-box ideas versus safe ones, 4) because it gets them to interact with each other and experts in the disease so that as they move up in their careers, there’s a strong network of peers to works with and 5) because it teaches them how to review grants (and how their grants are reviewed), something that is woefully missing from science education.
Anyway. This happened this weekend. It all went fairly smoothly bar some cancelled flights back to NYC yesterday. Everyone was fed and housed without issue. We gave away $150,000 in awards. We’re starting to see the impact that the first year’s awards is having. All in all, it’s a really cool concept. I’d love to see if we could start replicating it in other diseases… let me rephrase that. I’d love to see if we could hire a staff to start replicating it in other diseases.
I’m oddly feeling all over the place though after this weekend. Part of me is all revved up, and then part of me is feeling what I wouldn’t call depression or let-down-ness, but maybe hopelessness about the whole research world. I can’t put my finger on it tonight.
Anyway. Back to ‘normal’, which is currently running around like a headless chicken trying to stay ahead of life.
On the plus side: MY WASHING MACHINE IS FINALLY FIXED.