Illustration: A. Canamucio

Leading practitioners in most professions strive to work with the most up-to-date tools available, especially when faced with challenging tasks. Similarly, people relying on the skills of these top practitioners expect them to use the most advanced tools possible. Few patients, for example, would feel comfortable submitting to difficult medical procedures knowing their dentist, doctor, or surgeon was working with outdated instruments when a more modern version with substantially superior capacities could be had.

Today, however, even with the promise of the complete human genome at hand, it is more difficult than ever for academic scientists to acquire the modern instrumentation they need to push their research programs forward. Other vital resources, including laboratory space, supplies, and salaries, are easier to obtain. Funding for instrumentation historically has been a low priority for both academic institutions and the government agencies that support most nonprofit research at these institutions....

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