Tuesday 1 October should have been an exciting day for David Johnson. The biotech chief executive planned to withdraw some of the cash from a US$1.2-million small business grant that his firm, GigaGen in San Francisco, California, had been awarded just days before by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).
But Johnson was not able to access the money, nor may he be able to until the deeply divided US Congress agrees on a plan to fund government operations for the fiscal year that began on 1 October. In the meantime, the US government has shut down — a dramatic development that is beginning to hamper and halt the work of academic and private-sector researchers, as well as scientists employed by federal agencies.
Every grant I have ever been a part of included substantial amounts for salaries – graduate students, researcher, technicians, etc. A $1.2 million grant will have a lot of salary than is not accessible until the shutdown is over.
Yet these people are expected to continue working. The science cannot stop. I imagine this is being seen across the country.
So what do we call people required to work but not receiving any pay? Sounds like slavery to me.
Makes me wonder why anyone would go into science? Makes me wonder whether our basic research system can easily sustain this disruption?