Monday, April 1, 2013

Don't Be a Hero

Christopher Fasano describes how his lab is great at growing neural stem cells but not very good at genomics and bioinformatics:
I can surely learn this process and try to integrate it into my lab. But that would be heroic, and as you know, I am not a hero. So what do we do? We collaborate with bioinformaticists and mathematicians who do this for a living, and we all come together to move the project along.
Everyone starts out having that urge to "be a hero" and save the day, however small.  Some people learn to control it early and some people go on trying to be a hero in various circumstances for years. 

Doing a few years of research teaches people to be more collaborative as a natural by-product of dealing with the unknown.  It has a relentless ability to bring down people trying to throw wild pitches and make complicated experiments work. 

Of course, if the results are great the student/postdoc/scientist looks brilliant and becomes the hero of the day.  But remember that these heroic stories come at the cost of hundreds of failures that bulk up a dusty lab notebook somewhere.