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This is a really thoughtful post highlighting many of the deeply-rooted problems in securing funding as an early-stage academic. It's depressing for bright young scientists to be looking forward to lives as assistant professors submitting grant after grant with an expected ~10% success rate.

But what surprised me most was that at the end of the essay, after having described his fear of facing such uncertainty in NIH funding, the author mentions that he left academia to co-found a startup making software for life scientists.

Wait a minute — don't small software startups have equally poor success rates? (e.g. http://www.quora.com/What-is-the-truth-behind-9-out-of-10-st...)

If uncertainty of success was his major concern, hasn't the author chosen a pretty poor next step in life?

Indeed, I left academia for a startup. Securing funding for ZappyLab is by no means easy (http://anothersb.blogspot.com/2014/03/hello-startup-sequel-t...) But as hard as it is, there are many VCs, angels, and there is crowd funding (we are running a Kickstarter campaign now). Certainly not easy, but there are more options. You run a genetics lab and lose your NIH grant - where do you go?

Wherever you go, whatever you do, do this: quadruple your effort and input into your relationship with your wife.

Do VCs not fund biotech startups? Or are they only interested in social media iOS apps?

At least with a start-up your fate is much much, much, more in your own hands. It's really pretty astounding nowadays how many grants get rejected over the the tiniest things. I just had an application rejected (with high marks) due to it (1) focusing too heavily on what the call for applications primarily asked for, and (2) not numbering the pages.

Is about time required to iterate and the -related- abundance of VCs on the field.

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