Harvard University president Lawrence H. Summers has said publicly that he places great importance on the life sciences. But Harvard's Life Sciences Division has been without a dean to champion its interests for nearly a year, as Harvard has tried and failed to fill the position.

The university last week chose stem cell researcher Douglas Melton—an internal candidate—to lead a "Life Sciences Council." With that decision, which took effect June 1, life sciences remains the only one of four academic divisions within Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences without a dean. Deans for the other three divisions—social sciences, humanities, and physical sciences—were named in July 2003.

In a speech last year, Summers called the life sciences "as important as any other issue facing the university."

"The choices we make in the life sciences are as central as any choices that we will make as a university in...

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