Editor's Note: In his latest book, The Fragile Species (New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1992), scientist-author Lewis Thomas offers a collection of 14 essays, covering a wide range of personal, social, and scientific issues. Prominent among these is the relationship of basic scientific research, the achievements of modern medicine, and the future promise of an ever-healthier population. However, Thomas--who is president, emeritus, of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and the author of such best-selling books as The Lives of a Cell (New York, Viking Press, 1974) and The Medusa and the Snail (Viking, 1979)-- points out that, for steady advances in medicine to be achieved, basic research in biomedical science must have the government's robust support. In the following excerpt, Thomas argues eloquently on behalf of a strong National Institutes of Health, stressing that the funding agency must operate unencumbered by outside interference.
My contention is that...
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