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Protests I: Citizens Hamper Science Progress At Universities

When she came to the University of California, San Francisco, last year, Nina Agabian foresaw a bright future for herself and her lab. A professor of pharmaceutical chemistry with a joint appointment at UC-Berkeley, Agabian headed one of the nation’s leading groups investigating the molecular biology of parasites. And UCSF had promised her a spanking new laboratory in a recently purchased building for her work on vaccines against malaria, schistosomiasis, and other deadly diseases. But

Glennda Chui

When she came to the University of California, San Francisco, last year, Nina Agabian foresaw a bright future for herself and her lab. A professor of pharmaceutical chemistry with a joint appointment at UC-Berkeley, Agabian headed one of the nation’s leading groups investigating the molecular biology of parasites. And UCSF had promised her a spanking new laboratory in a recently purchased building for her work on vaccines against malaria, schistosomiasis, and other deadly diseases.

But Agabian found her lab besieged by a plague it had never studied: a bitter protest by people who resented scientists’ intrusion into the neighborhood, and who claimed that research is dangerous. The protesters filed a lawsuit that has yet to be resolved—one that, if it were to go against the university, could conceivably shut down research in the building. The uncertainty has crippled Agabian’s lab.

“We’re doing important work here, and we’re going to get...

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