I agree that Eric Murphy may be onto something. And I agree that handing over funds dispersion to the "administration" would be a mistake. However, a viable alternative would be to give medical college faculty senates some teeth by enabling governance of funds allotment at the college level through a democratic process. An executive board with representation from each department and/or research division would be presided over by the college dean. There will be motivation to continue funding the best science because the size of the pot depends directly on this. Moreover, there will be continuing value of young investigators, scientists experiencing a "dry spell" or reduced productivity due to other factors. Voting could be conducted by secret ballot, or done openly depending on the politics at each institution. Keeping the best and the brightest at the bench will become a corporate matter; teaching and service activities would be assigned by the chairs and deans accordingly.\n\nWhy is this sort of change important? As a biomedical research professor in a clinical department, I can tell you first hand our profession is highly undervalued. Our "services" directly reduce the physicians' bottom line and do not directly provide much income, we are considered to be "luxury items" and often funded less than the office administration, in terms of salary and materiel support. There is precious little opportunity to teach or even to mentor residents. \n\nSo, when spending 50-80% of our time in grant writing to support 75-100% of our operating expenses results in failure (partly due to the near lack of lab time to perform the studies that yield preliminary data that get grants funded, no technical support, and partly due to the challenge of extraordinarily low payline at NIH) our clinical colleagues judge us to be worth less and we are forced out of bench science and into other medical research jobs, or out of the field entirely. I came within 40 days of losing my academic appointment in 2007, before my R01-A2 submission was funded (the A1 was in the 9th percentile but not funded). The dean's bridge funding that I was provided came only AFTER my notice of attaining 6th percentile on the A2 was received, I spent less than 40% of these funds before my R01 kicked in (an excellent way to spread the wealth, kudos to the Administration for such a clever cost-cutting measure).\n\nPublic universities have an especially onerous burden, inasmuch as there are fewer benefactors, and "the people" expect a first class institution for a minimum investment. Research is costly and in many ways, a "Catch-22." Breaking into the cycle of money begets money, greatness begets greatness, requires a quantum leap not only of money, but of greatness. What makes us great? Our work ethic, our creative energies, our tolerance of others, even the ability to incorporate the successes of others into our own repertoire. All of this adds up to great university research (improved numbers of funded grants, numbers of peer-reviewed publications, number of graduate students enrolled, number of patents issued). Yet much of this is not reflected at the national level by the grant applications submitted or the information reviewed by study sections and scientific councils.\n\nThe "ivory tower" has long stood for unfettered inquiry, a privilege made possible by and for tenured faculty. Thinking is an art form, and as with most true art, there is a risk of nothing attractive being produced. Research at the university level must provide both unfettered environments for intellectual creativity, as well as hold its corpus accountable for a net gain. Often this gain is in the form of producing graduates who go on to distinguish themselves, bringing real value (economic growth, improved quality of life) and/or the improved perception of the outside world. This prestige also attracts better students and faculty, more donations, and yields a sense of public pride that supports the University at many levels. Lest we become vocational institutions designed solely to provide bodies for the future workforce, we must continue to improve and change the way we support scientific investigations.