Friday, February 8, 2013

Who needs PhDs?

Now here is a website that should chill the marrow of all those grad students working hard on their PhDs. Innocentive is an online company that proposes to solve problems by crowd sourcing. This apparently includes complex scientific problems involved in drug discovery and development since the company includes Eli Lilly among its clients. Here is how it works. Clients (Seekers) can post ‘challenges’ via Innocentive. People (Solvers) can then respond to the challenge with their ideas. If a successful solution is provided the Solver gets a prize- whoopee!

Seemingly the client companies involved seem to think that instead of long term hiring of expensive scientific staff, they can cherry pick new technologies by offering booby prizes of a few hundred or a few thousand dollars. So who needs PhDs- maybe Joe the Plumber can come up with your next research breakthrough!

Outsourcing of research to China and India is bad enough, but this is worse. In this race to the bottom the desire to minimize costs is eviscerating the scientific and technological capabilities of the American pharmaceutical industry. By not investing in research Big Pharma is on the path of slow motion suicide. 

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