In this episode, researcher Kevin Boehnke (B.S. ‘09, Ph.D. SPH ‘17) struggles to reconcile his goal of helping people through science with his need to accept research funds that potentially have strings attached.
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View the full Kevin Boehnke episode transcript.
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Highlights from This Episode
- 3:45 – “I was reflecting on this and thinking, ‘If I’m doing this work from a public health standpoint, am I selling out when I take this money from Dow?’ I disagree with them on a good number of things they’ve done in the past, so what does this mean about my moral compass?”
- 6:17 – “I came to the realization that, regardless of whether I was funded by the government through industry, or a foundation, or private wealth (which I don’t have)—regardless of that funding source, I would be constrained in some ways by the views of that agency, and how I was going to talk about my science, and what it was going to mean.”
- 11:38 – “As scientists, we do absolutely have audiences. Sometimes it’s just the people in our field, sometimes it’s a certain segment of the population, or voting bloc, or whatever it might be.”
- 12:00 – “I think a lot of people in academia don’t see government funding as having any strings attached. I think that maybe it has fewer, but in shaping the questions that people are asking, and all of the paperwork that goes with getting government funding, it becomes a little bit squishier than ‘industry funding is bad, and government funding is good.’ I think they can both be good, and they can both be bad.”
- 14:36 – “I think it’s clear at this point that neither of those extremes is valid, so that nuanced lens of putting science squarely in society is something that I am doing my best to embody as I move forward in this space and to take with a grain of salt the claims made by different sides.”
Kevin Boehnke (B.S. ‘09, Ph.D. SPH ‘17) is a research fellow in the U-M Department of Anesthesiology and the Chronic Pain and Fatigue Research Center. He is also a yoga instructor. Boehnke studies medical cannabis as an opioid substitute in chronic pain, along with self-management strategies for pain, such as yoga.
How to Science host Monica Dus is a professor in LSA’s Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB) who studies how the brain responds to the presence and absence of sugar. She wants to figure out how neurons sense and respond to the nutrients eaten as food. Her research relates to feeding behavior, energy balance, physiology, and obesity. She loves her three dogs, whose names are Cupcake, Sprinkles, and Brioche.