Whether or not a researcher of a certain notoriety deserves that the ‘support system’ [to] keep him going, there is a far more general problem: What props up biological research, at least in the vaunted US of A, involves a situation so deeply imbued with entitlement mentality that it has sunk into institutional corruption. A principal symptom of this state of affairs involves the following: People are hired after they have undergone long stints of training; and a potential hiree must present a large body of documented accomplishments. In my day you could get a faculty job with zero post-doc papers, as in the case of yours truly; but now the CV of a successful applicant looks like that of a newly minted full Professor from olden times. Notwithstanding these demands, and the associated high quality of a fledgling faculty-level type, the job starts with some “set-up” money for equipping the lab; but next to no means are provided to initiate that ‘research program’ and to sustain it during the years to come.
US institutions (possibly also those in other countries) behave as though they… are entitled to research funding, which will magically materialize from elsewhere: “Get a grant, serf! If you can’t do it quickly, or have trouble for some years — or if your funding doesn’t get renewed, despite continuing productivity — forget it!” But what if there are so many applicants (as there are nowadays) that even a meritorious proposal gets the supplicant nowhere or causes a research group to grind prematurely to a halt? What if the situation is worsened when the government at hand is anti-science and otherwise squanders its resources on international adventurism?