• Question: Do you have sponsors.

    Asked by Darth Vader to Jonathan, Kellie, Kevin, Melissa, Stephanie on 23 Apr 2016.
    • Photo: Kevin Baker

      Kevin Baker answered on 23 Apr 2016:

      I do not have any sponsors.

    • Photo: Kellie Jaremko

      Kellie Jaremko answered on 23 Apr 2016:

      I do not have any sponsors.

    • Photo: Stephanie Moon

      Stephanie Moon answered on 23 Apr 2016:

      There are a lot of rules and regulations that make sure scientists don’t have conflicts of interest in their research. So a sponsor that would normally give (for example) an athlete money to advertise their brand while they perform their sport would be really different from how we get money to work and do research. We need to make sure that our research is meaningful, and that we publish results that could not be skewed because of a sponsor’s influence. In reality, scientists like me are funded to work by a lot of different non-profit agencies and the government that want you to study a certain problem (without knowing how that problem will be solved). For example, I’m working as an employee of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (called HHMI, read more at https://www.hhmi.org/) but soon I will be working as a Sie Foundation Fellow (http://www.globaldownsyndrome.org/our-story/history/about-the-anna-and-john-j-sie-foundation/) to study Down Syndrome. This group would like it if more scientists studied Down Syndrome, but it’s not like a sponsor because they are not paying me as a scientist to promote a brand.

    • Photo: Melissa Wilson Sayres

      Melissa Wilson Sayres answered on 24 Apr 2016:

      Sponsors mean something different in and out of science. In science, at my University, we have an Office of Sponsored Projects, than handles administration for grants that we receive to do our research. These grants are usually from the federal government (NSF, NIH, USDA, DOD, DOE… a whole alphabet soup of federal agencies), or from foundations (March of Dimes, American Cancer Society, etc). This office makes sure we are meeting our reporting deadlines and spending money in the ways we agreed with our sponsors. There are some major differences between the way we are sponsored in science, and the way sponsors work outside of research. One is that we apply to the different sponsors (they usually don’t come offer to sponsor us). This has to do with another major difference, which is that there are usually agreements that sponsored research in science will be free from influence of the sponsors. This is to help ensure unbiased experiments and interpretations.

    • Photo: Jonathan Jackson

      Jonathan Jackson answered on 25 Apr 2016:

      It looks like Stephanie and Melissa have answered this question in pretty careful detail, but I don’t have any sponsors in the traditional sense: It’s not as though “Jonathan’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research brought to you by Mountain Dew” is a thing that exists. There are large organizations through the US federal government and private foundations (for me, the Alzheimer’s Association) that offer grant money for projects usually between 2 and 5 years in length. You write a big grant proposal that usually takes between 1 and 3 months to write, wait for upwards of a year, and then find out if these agencies think your ideas are good enough to pay for.

      I also work with clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease, and the trials do tend to be sponsored by a pharmaceutical company. The company pays for the study drugs, some of the costs of the study, and they make sure that all the rules are followed, but there are strict regulations (as Stephanie said) that make sure that the company can’t influence the quality of the data we generate and report. Sometimes they get to look at the data for a few months before releasing it to the public, but that’s about as much influence as a company can have on a clinical trial.