Recognizing that a lack of funds for purchase of equipment can hamper research in the life sciences, the Division of Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health implemented the Biomedical Research Support Shared Instrumentation Grant (SIG) program in 1982 to help institutions buy new instruments and upgrade older equipment.

Unfortunately, the problem that the granting scheme sought to alleviate appears to be getting more burdensome. In 1989, the SIG program received 407 applications—almost twice the number it received in its inaugural year. The funds requested, which had risen steadily from $39.1 million in 1982 to $64.6 million in 1988, swelled to $105.4 million in 1989 as the increased number of applicants requested more money. SIG’s budget, however, has not increased to meet the growing need, and, according to Marjorie Tingle, director of the Biomedical Research Support Grant program, the budget will probably not grow in the future.

“The budget...

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