Before I start my whining I need to set up the context. I came to work as a postdoc in a multidisciplinary lab, that combines “theoreticians” and “experimentalists”. Two PIs, two R01s. NIH complained about experiments overlapping, we just got the experimental grant renewed. A couple of years ago the experimentalist PI retired and I’ve been pretty much “bossless”. My current PI doesn’t have a clue about what I actually do in the lab! Despite being really smart and able to give me a lot of science insights, there’s no lab experience. None. But things have been working fine so far. Got used to be on my own. Graduate student is also under my direct supervision, as well as two undergrads.
Now we have little more than a year left for our R01 to finish and it’s time to send a renewal. Current PI put some ideas together and it kind of looks nice, but… just too old fashioned and not sexy. Our research is not glam enough for us to submit just that! The other two research associates (that will be co-PIs in the grant) also gave some contributions, but mainly to their in vitro experiments, that’s about one third of the grant. So as I pointed the weakness of our grant I was awarded with the task to fix it.
So I submitted my very first R03 grant and I’m applying for a couple of jobs. I’m also working on writing another NSF grant with collaborator. But every chance I have I stop to read and try to work in our R01. Slowly. And every time I tried and couldn’t work I was feeling guilty. Thinking that if our R01 is not renewed everybody is going to lose their jobs. Terrified with this idea, but still unable to make it look better. Thought it may be something that cannot be fixed, or that I just can’t do it. But I have tons of ideas for my own future research, I know where I want to go and things flow so easy with no pressure!
So before leaving for SFN I sent the updated version for the PIs to see what I’ve done and complement, as there’s still a lot of work to do. Coming back after more than a week, guess what? Nothing changed! No one worked a single bit in the grant. Then I realized. It’s not that I can’t do it, but in fact I’m bothered, and now that I realized it I’m angry and tired. This is just not my job. I can’t have all this responsibility in my back. That’s their job. Their salary is about double than mine. My name is not going to appear as a co-PI in the grant.
I know one might think it’s good for me, that’s learning and it will help me long term. But in the middle of all this I have little time (almost no time, actually) to go to the bench and do MY experiments. Gotta publish too. Ahhhhh right now I’m just tired. But I’m really wondering… should I be bothered or be proud?