Mark Pallen, professor of microbial genomics at the University of Warwick, has won funding for 15 years straight, including an £8.7-million award from the Medical Research Council. He tells Craig Nicholson that it's a matter of finding the right balance, and that it can’t hurt to make some influential friends.
“There is what you might call a shadow line between what the letter of the law says you can do—what’s ethically acceptable—and where you cross the line into something that’s not right.” So says microbiologist Mark Pallen when talking about applying for research funding.
What Pallen, professor of microbial genomics and head of the division of microbiology and infection at the University of Warwick, means is that the distinction between what is ethically acceptable when preparing an application and what is not, isn’t black and white. Rather, it is a fuzzy line up to the point of something being specifically outlawed by the funders. Where exactly the line lies differs from person to person.