Science departments seek high-tech instruments, promising companies a generation of skilled researchers in return.
WASHINGTON--This spring two dozen students at North Carolina State University are mastering protein chemistry in the classroom with equipment usually found only in a state-of-the-art research laboratory. And the university didn't have to buy a single instrument.

The reason? The new head of the biochemistry department, Paul Agris, convinced companies to loan or donate $500,000 in equipment for a new instrument training program. The equipment allows graduate and undergraduate students to purify, characterize, and sequence proteins and to synthesize DNA. Agris made his pitch to salesmen for whom his department had been a good customer. And he cruised trade show exhibits looking for possible donors.

Agris took on the challenge of finding donors because the high cost of such state-of-the-art equipment was beyond the reach of his budgets. And biotechnology companies responded to his entreaties because...

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