How can members of Congress find out what they're getting for all the money they appropriate for biomedical research? Ten years ago, former Democratic Maine representative Peter Kyros and his associate Belle Cummins, along with Rep. George W. Gekas (R-Pa.), came up with an inspired answer: a command performance biomedical seminar program featuring a who's who list of scientists as invited speakers. On March 29, invited speaker Harold Varmus, former director of the National Institutes of Health, congratulated the program officially known as the Congressional Biomedical Research Caucus, on its 10th anniversary.

In 1990, a newly formed coalition of four scientific societies, called the Joint Congress Steering Committee of Public Policy (JSC)--on Kyros' lead and with Gekas' support--approached Congress with the idea of a forming a caucus, offering to help organize educational seminars, or "caucus briefings," and recruit speakers. Some lobbyists and members of university advocacy committees, though,...

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