Judith Kimble, a Vilas Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, is working as a member of the Steering Committee for Rescuing Biomedical Research, a national effort to address “major problems” plaguing biomedical research.
In 2014, four prominent policy leaders published a paper outlining systemic flaws in the biomedical research enterprise. This paper inspired Kimble to organize a first-of-its-kind campus initiative — in collaboration with Marsha Mailick, Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education — to bring together UW-Madison scientists, students, post-doctoral researchers, and national leaders to analyze the issue.
The unique format of this campus-wide, discussion-based and months-long “workshop,” plus its resultant recommendations, were published in 2015, in the journal eLife and can be found online. Recently, Dr. Mike Lauer, who is Deputy Director of Extramural Research at the National Institutes of Health, blogged about the UW-Madison workshop and provided new data supporting its conclusions.
“Biomedical research is in a dangerous state of disequilibrium with too few research dollars for the number of scientists being trained for a career of research,” Kimble says. “The policy changes being discussed to address this disequilibrium will have direct impact on UW-Madison — on our graduate students in the biomedical sciences, our postdocs and faculty. To help UW-Madison have a voice in this debate, we organized the 2015 campus workshop. Based on the recent NIH blog by Mike Lauer, our Madison voice was clearly heard.”
Her efforts in this area progress as she works with the Rescuing Biomedical Research’s Steering Committee to facilitate implementation of ideas for solutions. She recently gave a keynote address in Washington, D.C. on the issue of research reproducibility, which she notes is closely linked with problems facing biomedical research.
Kimble researches molecular controls of animal development and stem cells, using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a model. She also is currently the chair of the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science.
“My efforts continue at the national-level with Rescuing Biomedical Research,” she says. “The challenges are huge but our group appears to be making a dent already.”