Recent political and judicial setbacks to affirmative action throughout the United States have minority and women scientists concerned that whatever advantages they have gained in the lab or clinic in the 30 years since such laws and regulations were enacted will be decimated.

Impassioned national debate on the issue has been sparked by a number of widely publicized events. Among them are an effort by two professors in California to do away with any vestige of affirmative action in hiring by state agencies--including the state university system--and last month's Supreme Court decision to eliminate race as a factor in awarding scholarships.

But in the halls of academia, perhaps the most strident exchanges are taking place among the parties whom affirmative action programs were designed to benefit--minorities and women.

In some cases, argument centers on who in the research community has really been helped by affirmative action. Some African American scientists...

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