The presentations and posters at the recent American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) annual meeting offered up reams of data that pointed to a commanding future of discoveries. But, as the geneticists and students checked in and got their badges, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks cast an ominous shadow that could not be ignored.

ASHG president Huntington F. Willard addressed it head-on: "Let the clearest and loudest message of this week be that at a time when others would take away freedom of thought and action, more than 4,400 geneticists from over 20 countries came together to share new information and to speak their shared conviction that the open pursuit of knowledge is far more powerful than the fear of terror."

Although security was heightened, attendance was down, but only about 15%, according to Harry T. Orr, ASHG program committee chair. He estimated that about 10% of the speakers--most...

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