WASHINGTON--While any conceptual link between modern scientific investigation and Christopher Columbus's landing in the New World back in 1492 is tenuous, the National Institutes of Health nevertheless plans to mark the 500th anniversary of the Italian explorer's first visit to the Western hemisphere by giving awards named after him to leaders in biomedical research.

This fall NIH will bestow Christopher Columbus Discovery Awards in Biomedical Research upon a dozen or so scientists who, in the words of its call for nominations, "have made discoveries that have contributed significantly to the alleviation of disease and disability." The competition is international, and covers work, either basic or clinical, in any biomedical field. Winners, who will be required to attend an award ceremony, will receive a medal, a monetary prize, travel expenses, and what NIH hopes will be international recognition for this one-time-only presentation. The prize is to...

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