Friday, June 25, 2010

The Queen Random Cancer Institute

If I were Queen of the Universe and not just Queen of my house, I would create the ultimate cancer institute, hereby dubbed the Queen Random Cancer Institute (QRCI).  The QRCI's mission would focus broadly on cancer research (basic, translational and clinical - maybe a little more basic because it is dear to my heart) with an emphasis on training and education, and would be located, hmm, just outside a major city so there's somewhere fun to go, clinics and institutions for collaborations, but housing costs don't bleed trainees dry.  Maybe outside Seattle?  I do love Seattle.  The QRCI would be well funded (I think maybe suddenly becoming the richest person on the planet so I can fund this cool place) and would feature the following scientific resources:
  • Core facilities: DNA synthesis, Microscopy (and I'd hire people whose only job is making sure the confocals are CLEAN), Spectrometry, Mouse Husbandry and Genetics, Flow Cytommetry,  Tissue Processing, Model Organisms (pick your favorite - we'll have a core!) I'm sure there's more that I'm forgetting at the moment.
  • PIs, trainees and students would have free access to and be encouraged to use consultants for grant writing, manuscript writing, scientific librarians and statistical analysis.
  • Collaboration would be encouraged across basic, translational and clinical research through interdepartmental funding initiatives, in-house conferences and interdepartmental seminars.
  • A tissue bank of patient samples, obtained with express consent. 

Not forgetting the most important resource in research - the people! - the QRCI would have the following employee benefits:
  • Employees would enjoy free lunches at the cafeteria - and they'd be GOOD.  Healthy options would not be limited to salad.
  • Free on-site gym for employees.
  • Grad student stipends and benefits would be fully paid for by the institution, and would be set at NIH+25%.
  • Students would get the same benefits as employees. 
  • 50% of postdoc stipends and benefits would be paid for by the institution and would be set at NIH+25%.
  • Career development training would be available and encouraged throughout the scientific career from just out of undergrad tech to established PI, including scientific skills, help identifying how to obtain jobs and career goals, leadership, lab management, and scientific communication.
  • Comprehensive health care including vision and dental.
  • 6 months paid parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child.
  • On-site subsidized daycare for ALL employees, trainees and students including private nursing suites.
  • Help for spouses of employees/trainees/students to find jobs.
  • Help for employees/trainees/students to find housing if they have to relocate to join the QRCI.

Finally, the QRCI would also be focused on outreach:
  • Realistically prorated healthcare for clinic patients including free clinics.
  • Employees, trainees and students will be expected to volunteer in the community for a minimum 2 weeks a year (this can be spread out for a total of 80 hours/year).  Their normal salary/stipend will persist during this 2 weeks, with an option to volunteer more for a total of 120 hours of salary for volunteering.  The institute will help arrange volunteer opportunities with the local community.
  • Public education - I'm not sure how to go about this, but I'd like a public education campaign focused on promoting science education for all ages with a focus on life sciences and cancer treatment.

This post is a part of Scientiae's July installation: Fantasy Institute.

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