David sez, "Three guys won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, but there was a
fourth scientist who did critical work but now makes $10/hr in a
Toyota dealership! Despite the star system, science is a team sport, except that sometimes a team player contributes long after he's been sent to the minors."
But instead of focusing on his hard luck, Prasher said he is happy for his former colleagues. While it was perfectly within his rights not to share the cloned gene with others, Prasher said he felt an obligation to give his research a chance to turn into something significant, even if he was no longer a part of it.
"When you're using public funds, I personally believe you have an obligation to share," Prasher said. "I put my heart and soul into it, but if I kept that stuff, it wasn't gonna go anyplace."
David Mark Welch, assistant scientist of evolutionary biology at MBL, said this sort of situation is a natural byproduct of working in an industry where competition for grant money can be intense. Some grants have 100 applications but will only fund 10 requests, Welch said. That means competition – even from fellow colleagues at the same institution – can be fierce and scientists often feel the need to keep all unpublished research a secret.
Welch praised Prasher's actions and said many researchers are finding it easier to obtain larger grants if they collaborate instead of alienate. "You have to put aside any sort of personal desires to be better than everyone else because if your grant isn't funded, you're in trouble," he said.
Shuttle driver reflects on Nobel snub
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