A group of 77 intramural National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientists has joined several hundred of their extramural microbiologist colleagues in criticizing the agency's funding priorities. In response to letters from both groups, NIH director Elias Zerhouni has agreed to meet with their organizers.

The NIH director will meet with Rutgers professor Richard Ebright, the main organizer of the original letter from 758 external grant reviewers and recipients, and with yet-unnamed "other interested people" probably in May, NIH spokesperson Don Ralbovsky said yesterday (March 29).

Zerhouni will also meet with Michael Yarmolinsky, a National Cancer Institute researcher who organized a March 17 letter to him from 77 intramural NIH researchers, and other of that letter's signatories, according to NIH's deputy director of intramural research, Michael Gottesman.

While the February letter attributed the cut in funding to huge increases in NIH support for biodefense research, the new letter...

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