“I am Intramural” Series: Freedom & Flexibility
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
In our latest post in the “I am Intramural” series, we want to touch on the second theme to emerge from our survey into what being part of the NIH IRP means to our scientists and staff – “freedom and flexibility.”
Many researchers pursue careers in science for the joy that comes from finding the unexpected, solving complex problems, knowing that a particular outcome can make a difference, and pushing our knowledge forward. Scientists in the IRP talk about the importance of freedom to follow the science.
We know that scientific discovery rarely takes a linear trajectory. More often than not, exploration follows a circuitous route, with many avenues leading to dead ends before one avenue opens up to reveal a secret. When more than one avenue does open up, successful researchers must be flexible and decide where best to focus their energies, resources, and budgets.
At the IRP, our researchers are evaluated predominantly on the basis of their accomplishments since their last review, which provides the freedom and flexibility to explore multiple avenues at once, as well as to change direction quickly as new opportunities become available. If a research program in the intramural program fails to meet expectations, funds are redeployed elsewhere.
It’s an alternative strategy to supporting scientific discovery, and it allows our scientists and clinicians to pursue complex explorations into biomedical research that often appears to be one step ahead of us.
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Other posts in this series—