For the past 30 years the forefront of biomedical research has been synonymous with the efforts of the U.S. research community, shaped and financed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Now NIH's pre-eminence is at risk, challenged by the emergence of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) as a leader in the field.

Since 1985, HHMI—with assets of $45.2 billion—has spent the better part of $485.4 million at 48 academic centers. Hughes researchers, many of them former stars of NIH extramural programs, have quickly formed a new elite, and the reason is clear: Hughes provides generous funding and requires minimal paperwork, thus freeing a scientist for research. A recent ruling by the Internal Revenue Service will now extend the Hughes largess to an increasing number of scientists (see The Scientist, January 26, 1987, pp. 16-17 and March 23, 1987, p. 3). With such good news, what can the...

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