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#1 ..declining investment in research and development have dramatically shrunk the U.S. drug industry
Waiting X years for the FDA approval drags on the ROI, not to mention that with a glut of lawyers [advertizing on daily on TV] hoping to hit the Lotto Jackpot of litigation the interest isn't there. Given that you're dealing with 300 million people there won't be a perfect drug that doesn't negatively effect some people. You think asprin could get approval today with its potential side effects?
Posted by Procopius2k 2012-07-08 09:31||
#2 We do indeed educate a lot of PhDs who won't ever get a chance to grab the brass ring in academia.
There's an old saying about what the young scientists want us old scientists to do: die and get out of the way.
For various reasons, we train a lot more people than we can bring up behind us. That's not going to change until 1) the higher education bubble bursts and 2) PhD candidates see that going to industry and making money is just as honorable as staying on as a post-doc at Enormous State University.
Posted by Steve White 2012-07-08 10:03||
#3 I'm still not sure all this computes with my experience at NIA. I'd have guessed that the majority of the scientists were foreign-born, with the emphasis on Chinese, Russian, and South Asians. I'm not sure about the ratios among the post-docs, but I'm guessing that's where people like Michelle showed up, working for salaries that could only be called nominal to get their names included on papers and the positions included on their resumes. I guess from that point they moved on to admin positions at their universities...
Posted by Fred 2012-07-08 10:43||
#4 There's another dimension to this. Notice that a lot of their examples are drawn from drug discovery.
Drug discovery is now being accomplished to a great degree through use of advanced/intelligent software and equipment. See: Race Against the Machine
Posted by lotp 2012-07-08 11:06||
#5 Waiting X years for the FDA approval drags on the ROI ....
All true but while the US is probably the world's single largest market it's far from the only one. In much of the world pharmaceuticals don't benefit from patent protection and where they do they often suffer from price controls. Innovation in that area is dying because the world has collectively chosen, via any number of mechanisms, to heavily suppress the profit motive.
Posted by AzCat 2012-07-08 11:10||
#6 This isn't a 'just lately' problem.
For decades there has been a surplus of some types of technical specialties. Chemists have been surplus for some years, mechanical engineers for other years, lawyers in recent years, etc.
Posted by lord garth 2012-07-08 11:36||
#7 This is the result of the current practice of using graduate students as cheap (scholarships don't include payments to pension funds, etc..) labor. Do the math: a tenured professor has dozens of coolies graduate students during his/hers career.
Posted by g(r)omgoru 2012-07-08 14:27||
#8 Oh they're needed, it's just the government makes sure they're not economically viable.
Posted by Bright Pebbles 2012-07-08 14:29||
#9 Here is my take as a 30 year industrial R&D chemist: we "educate" more graduates in all technical fields that we can usefully employ in the low-functioning manufacturing economy that we now have. For many programs, the degree has become a credential with being a qualification. Companies, which at least in theory, create value cannot afford large R&D organizations. Business is bad. Regulations have become kudzu-like impediments to new commercialization. And after all that the Precautionary Principle rises up to stop anything that is left. This is why manufacturing has moved to Asia, cheaper labor (temporarily), but fewer regulations.
Posted by SR-71 2012-07-08 17:56||
#10 One of the problems is simply the necessity of specializing in something to get your PhD, and the long time required to do it. Once you specialize, you are less-than-qualified for positions outside that narrow field. I have run up against this again and again -- "We need someone to employ X technique on phenomenon Y, but you only know about X technique on phenomenon Z. No job for you!"
Now, you'd think that a person capable of getting a PhD would be able to bone up on phenomenon Y in a pretty short time, and you'd be right. But there's no need, because there's always -- always -- someone available who does exactly the kind of research needed. This is especially true in a global job market.
This has been true since the 1980s, at least. But once in a while a promising new field opens up, a field no one has specialized in, because it's new. Then it's kind of like a gold rush, and you get this sort of hand-wringing and pearl-clutching about our critical shortage of scientists.
I would not advise a young person to go into pure science unless his parents are rich.
Posted by Angie Schultz 2012-07-08 18:49||
#11 Nah. I think we need more radical-chic zombies indoctrinated in oppressed-group studies, social "sciences," and other liberal arts majors that reward conformity and orthodoxy over math, logic, and empirical data.
Posted by RandomJD 2012-07-08 18:58||
#12 Meanwhile, up here in the Pac NW, North of Boeingville, we cannot find any engineers of any discipline for aeronautical work: mechanical, stress, design, interior, etc.
Posted by USN, Ret. 2012-07-08 22:13||
#13 When I was a wee sprout in the early '80s, I worked for an aerospace outfit. The old timers told me of the days when the bottom dropped out of the aerospace market and engineers joked, "Last one out of Seattle, please turn off the lights."
Posted by Angie Schultz 2012-07-08 23:50||