WASHINGTON—National Science Foundation officials are hoping that an arranged marriage between Duke University and the National Institutes of Health will extend NSF's engineering research centers into the life sciences and provide a model for other joint ventures by federal research agencies. But progress has been slow because, as with most such marriages, the couple was the last to know.

This spring the National Science Board agreed to spend up to $32 million over the next five years to create engineering centers at the University of Colorado and UCLA, bringing the total to 13 since the program was begun in 1985. It announced that Duke University's proposal for a center on emerging cardiovascular technologies would be next—if NIH agreed to put up at least one-third of the $14 million in federal funds being requested.

"President Reagan's 'Quest for Excellence' program calls on all federal agencies to become involved in various types...

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