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Monday, December 18, 2006

The Lucrative Field of Biotechnology

SBRI, the Seattle Biomedical Research Center. Imagine a world where people live free from the threat of infectious disease. Through leadership in scientific discovery we strive to eliminate the worlds most devestating infectious diseases.

Take Malaria for example. It infects between 300 and 500 million people every year and causes between one and three million deaths annually, mostly among young children in Sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria is not just a disease commonly associated with poverty, but is also a cause of poverty and a major hindrance to economic developmentt.

Sounds like a real problem. The Cargo Cult Scientist has the opportunity to join one of the SBRI groups. Top pay? $37,000.

House payment $2500 split two ways Average house in Seattle 430,000K
= 1250 x 12 months = $15,000

I've got $22,000 left over. But wait, I have to pay taxes. Let's assume 25% 22,000 - 9,300 = $12,700.

oil 1000K
internet $650
phone $550
Student loan $1800
Utilities $900

I'm down to $7,800 and I haven't bought food yet. No car payments or kids thankfully. Gas? Luckily SBRI offers free bus passes. Let's eat conservatively at $75 per week. Okay, I've got $3,900 left. That's $325 per month for gas, haircuts, eating out, baseball games, home improvement and maintainance, car insurance, and on and on..

I'm carving out quite a life here. What will I have to do in return for this opportunity? This job uses molecular biology and functional genomics to investigate the function of the apicoplast in malaria parasites. Working with mice and malaria sounds glamorous.

The guy who works on your car has more experience than most of the researchers working on curing disease. It just doesn't pay and that's why the research doesn't pay off. It's very noble to donate money to non-profit research organizations. Just be aware of how much of it reaches those who work in the laboratories. They ride home on the bus to their studio apartments contemplating new careers. Maybe finding cures for Malaria was a bad idea. Maybe being a school teacher would pay better.

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