Who are the PIs: scientists or managers?

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Who are the PIs: scientists or managers?

Postby Andrey » Tue Jan 25, 2005 8:47 am

I went through several forums and I got an opinion that a PI in a big lab does not have time to communicate with PhD students and postdocs. However, PIs are normally considered to be scientists and they solely benefit from the science performed by the members of his/her lab. Is it fair?

Who are the PIs: scientists or managers?

Postby Kevin Rogers » Tue Jan 25, 2005 11:02 am

In some cases its fair, in others not so much.

Depends on the management style of the individual PI and the field.
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Who are the PIs: scientists or managers?

Postby Jim Gardner » Tue Jan 25, 2005 12:11 pm

The short answer (at least at my company)--they are both scientists and managers.

I work at one of the largest pharmaceutical companies and have many PIs as clients (I am an intelligence/information provider). These PIs are intimately involved with the science being carried out by the PhDs under their direction. I\'ve sat in on some of their staff meetings and was very impressed with their scientific knowledge and guidance. These PIs also are involved with licensing and acquisition--they provide scientific input/opinion on the merits of compounds and technologies under consideration for licensing.

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Who are the PIs: scientists or managers?

Postby Fred » Tue Jan 25, 2005 5:39 pm

In my lab the PI is a guy who stopped doing anything science related well before I started. His interactions with us consist of asking us questions so when he goes to a meeting or something he knows what is going on. And he also likes to pressure us to work harder, make more papers, etc.

I guess you could call him a manager - he certainly doesn\'t do science!

Who are the PIs: scientists or managers?

Postby Park » Tue Jan 25, 2005 6:22 pm

Some PI are chemists, basically knows nothing about biology. But they still got huge grans from NIH from the work done by Postdocs.
You can not hope they would give you instruction, only hope they did not ask nut questions. They are managers trying to benefit from biology research.

Who are the PIs: scientists or managers?

Postby Jason » Tue Feb 22, 2005 10:56 am

To me, the system is kind of corrupted and needs to be fixed. Both my Ph.D. and postdoc advisors are old generation biochemists who basically don't know anything about modern biology. Okay, to be fair, they do know one thing or two about the theory but literally nothing about experiments. However, they are both enjoying a quite successful career, simply because they know the way the system was set up their students and postdocs have to produce to get out of there. Since they established in the field so long ago and spend most of their time socializing, they are also well connected and as a result well funded. They have the people in the lab take care of almost everything scientific for them, from bench work,to writing papers, to reviewing papers, to preparing slides, etc. Life as a "scientist" for them is just like walking in a park. They are worse than managers and business owners because running a science lab in academia is very low risk. After all its all taxpayers' dollars. They can always move on to the next one if one project or postdoc fails.

Who are the PIs: scientists or managers?

Postby Ganesh » Tue Feb 22, 2005 11:06 am

The role of a PI is primarily to ensure that the lab is well supplied with money or grants, so that unhindered research can go on. So it is important that the PI be a good scientist as writing grant proposals requires one to be well aware of the current developments in the field and this can be got only by actively reading up latest scientific literature.
But of course, this might take some toll on the management skills of the said PI, which is why many big labs are very badly managed.

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