Research Field Sidebars:

The phenomenon of apoptosis--a form of programmed cell death--has sprung suddenly and dramatically into scientific consciousness. While references to apoptosis now abound in scientific literature, cell biology textbooks with copyrights prior to 1992 do not contain the term in their indexes.

Before 1992, the National Institutes of Health did not list apoptosis as an area of research interest. In 1993, however, grant funding for projects whose title mentioned the word nearly doubled over the 1992 figure; funding doubled again in 1994 (see accompanying table).

And yet, when Barbara Osborne, an associate professor in the molecular and cellular biology program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, recently traced the development of the field, she found an erratic history, characterized by little early activity followed by booming interest. She was researching the...

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