Nieuws - 16 december 2009

Santa Aalt

Reflection, introspection and contemplation. These words are part and parcel of this time of the year. Like the wish lists, including that at work. However, whenever the wish list for new equipment is contemplated during a meeting, a weighty silence falls. Not because there are no wishes. It's because everyone ponders on the need to hold purchasing meetings when no money is available. Of course, cheaper stuff such as broken pipettes or a rumbling Ependorf centrifuge could be replaced. But when we are expected to deliver excellence in research, more are needed.

This year, our department of Toxicology has been rated as 'very good' by the international review committee. Well done indeed, especially when this seems to be tied to a research bonus of 35 thousand euros. May I now ask to replace the preparative HPLC which hasn't fallen apart yet thanks to metal clamps? Can my colleague install a new air flow cabinet which doesn't require those sitting before it to wear ear protectors? But our dreams spatter like fully saturated cells when we compare the cost prices with the budget. Equipment costs a bomb. The bonus has been used up umpteenth times already when we are only at the halfway point in our list.
I am certain that the groups that have been rated just 'good' this year have a bitter pill to swallow.  How can you perform excellently if there is no money for replacement and renewal? Without innovative equipment, the link to the top performers will be lost. What's more: after years of economizing, the risk of sliding downwards is as large as life.
Naturally, we want to perform even better next year. So we spend a moment in contemplation when making our wish list. We hope too that the Executive Board in drawing up its balance sheet also  realizes that even the best researchers can stay at the top only when they have more money. Therefore, Santa Aalt, invest in us! That's at the top of my wish list. Let's hope that this Santa exists.