The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) will become fully functional by Oct. 31, burying a two-decade struggle between powerful foes. That fight reached crisis point on the last working day of 2000, when former President Bill Clinton was faced with deciding whether to sign a federal law sanctioning the 19th institute at the National Institutes of Health. To approve NIBIB, he would have to override the opposition of numerous scientific groups and of his Health and Human Services Secretary, Donna Shalala, whose department oversees NIH.

More than 40 scientific organizations and 170 cosponsors in the House of Representatives were in favor of the bill. Yet it looked ready to expire in the Senate during the waning days of the 106th Congress, until Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) unexpectedly ushered it through a voice vote at the close of the Dec. 15 session. A week later,...

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