A funding increase for the physical sciences proposed by a key White House advisory panel has touched off a furor among non-medical life science groups, who say they are already being ignored by the National Science Foundation. The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) is expected to send a letter this week to President George W. Bush asking him to double the federal dollars going to research in physical sciences and engineering in the 2004 budget.

That letter topped the agenda Tuesday at the first meeting of the Biological and Ecological Sciences Coalition (BESC), a newly formed association of groups representing life-science disciplines mainly funded by the NSF, rather than the National Institutes of Health. Officials from member groups including the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), Ecological Society of America (ESA) and the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) gathered at ESA headquarters in...

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