Keenan, R. et al
After years of frustration dealing with single-digit NIH paylines, microbiologist Malcolm Welles invented a time machine to transport himself to the 1980s when ample grant funding was the norm.
“Back then institutes didn’t have to make arbitrary distinctions among well-reviewed proposals – they could all be funded down to the 30th, even 35th percentile!” said time travel pioneer Welles. “Old-timers in the faculty lounge can’t stop smiling when they talk about those days. I just wanted to experience that for myself.”
So far Welles has received two hefty grants that will keep his 20th century lab going well into the 1990s. “It’s astounding. The proposals aren’t any better than the ones I submit in the present but the money keeps rolling in.”
Welles has begun to share his secret with others. New faculty member Mary Warner recently returned from her second trip. “I didn’t suffer any ill effects,” the intrepid bacteriologist explained, “and the benefits are amazing. In 1985 I have my own R01 a full three years before I come up for promotion. Try doing that in 2021.”
“Also,” says Warner, “I’ve amassed a terrific collection of scrunchies.”
When asked how success in the past helps his current applications, Welles’s tone became muted. “I always return eager to write new grants but the enthusiasm fades when my scores are in the 20th percentile and unfundable.” He sighed and popped a Duran Duran cassette tape into his Walkman. “Still, it shows my mentoring committee I’m trying.”