We're a little crazy, about science!

The award announcement

Well it’s official, my project got funded. It’s a little hollow since we knew ahead of time that it was going to be awarded, but now that it’s official we can make a big deal about it. By we I mean my school-PI and our collaborator, who I guess is technically my latest Co-PI, so now I have three PI’s and you thought my life was complicated enough already, didn’t you?

There’s been a flurry of emails going back and forth about different press releases. Since this is a collaboration between the hospital and the school, we will be releasing a joint announcement. To say that I am anxious about the whole thing is an understatement. We’re not even sure if what I’m proposing will work, I was working on an n = 1 study which, while promising, was certainly anything but definitive. I mean at least we had pilot data, but it was basically betting on a single person’s data. To be fair, I’ve collected several other participants worth of data under different circumstances and it LOOKS like we have something, but it was far from conclusive.

With our award we also got our scores, we were assessed (like everyone) by three people in the field of our submission who would be knowledgeable enough to know if our proposal was feasible or not. Our scores were really good, like surprisingly good, and I like to think it was partly because of things I learned from the previous R21 I wrote that didn’t get funded. With the scores we also get reviewer comments. They all agreed that this was a high risk proposal, which makes me feel a little better about what we submitted. We had at least one that I can recall mention that our pilot data was an n =1 and most of the work we cite was based on animal models and it would’ve been nice to have a human model to base our data around.

I agree with that reviewer and had there been human data available I totally would’ve cited it. That’s the problem of being a pioneer I guess. There just isn’t any human data showing what I want to do, so I leaned heavy on animal data. We also had some of the comments I was expecting. The sample size for this project is huge, 25 people total. Recruiting neurologically intact participants that fit our inclusion criteria won’t be that hard, but finding 15 participants with spinal cord injury will be a huge challenge. More than one reviewer pointed this out and I knew that was coming, but it’s what my school-PI wanted so that’s what we went with. I really regret not pushing back on that some in hindsight, but here we are.

Next week we’re supposed to give our new collaborator from the hospital a tour of the school lab. Luckily for me, I’ll have all my splints and stuff removed so I won’t look like I got into a bar fight before we have our photos taken for the award announcement. Unlike the previous R21 I ghost wrote, this one actually had my name on it, which was weird, but cool. I mean I’m excited to be celebrating the fact that I now have two years of funding to do the project, I just wish we would celebrate after it turns out to be successful, because if it turns out to not work… well then I just wasted a lot of time, money, and I’m going to look like a huge jackass.

I keep telling myself what we’re doing it really testing the limits of what the equipment can do, and that is true. I just hope it works and that we get something worthwhile from it all. It’s an incredibly ambitious proposal and I don’t know if I can live up to the hype that is going on right now. We have the both the hospital and the school announcing the award and it makes me nervous because I prefer to under promise and over deliver, and I feel like we’re doing this backwards. Since the wheels are already in motion I’m just stuck going for the ride, but we’ll have to see how it goes I guess.

In other news, healing is… going. I bleed a lot after surgery, I’ve gotten used to this, but it’s still such a mess. I hate surgery despite going through it so many times.

I also got an alarming email today saying my school funding has been pulled and I now owe close to $5000 to the school. Anyone have extra cash laying around they want to donate to the cause? I hope it is an error and I sent an email asking for clarification, but if it isn’t an error I will be forced to pay immediately or get on a payment plan, neither of those options sounds great. I’m going to reach out to my school-PI to see what he says, but I may have shot myself in the foot taking the job at the hospital since I believe these are related. Actually I just now got an email saying I need to contact the graduate school to find out why it was pulled… fun. Why did this have to happen days after surgery!?


2 responses

  1. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    October 21, 2021 at 9:57 am

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