National Institutes of Health director Bernadine Healy says she is trying to shift the debate over adequate funding for biomedical research away from scientists and toward health as she sells the idea of a larger NIH budget to Congress and the public. But sometimes it's hard to separate the needs of her colleagues and the needs of the country.

"I'm not talking about a full-employment program for scientists," she told a recent meeting of the director's advisory committee that was focusing on the issue of indirect costs. "What we need to remember is that our goals are to fight disease and promote good health. That's what Congress gives us money to do."

But in the past several years, supporters of NIH have used the number of new grants to individual investigators as a barometer for the overall health of the NIH budget. They managed to push that number up to...

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