In a Nov. 7, 1994, letter, Marvin Cassman, acting director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), informed NIGMS grantees that the institute is "making special efforts" to fund applications that contain risky or unorthodox ideas or methods. Specifically, these would be applications that contain ideas that challenge current dogma; include experimental approaches that have inherent or unavoidable elements of risk; propose experimental models that are not fully developed or whose utility is not adequately shown; and/or are lacking data to establish the feasibility of the proposed ideas.

"A lot of people in the field don't seem to know that about a year ago the institute and our council recommended that we take 5 percent of our competing research dollars and set it aside to support 'risky' research," Cassman says. These types of grants are typically funded for two years for a total of $120,000 in direct costs....

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