The quest to identify the genetic causes of diabetes makes other hereditary disease research sound almost easy by comparison. Whereas cystic fibrosis, Huntington's disease, and many other disorders are each the result of a single defective gene, the origins of diabetes are far more baffling. In diabetes, several genes seem to be responsible for the malady; environmental influences, such as obesity, play a role as well.

None of this daunts molecular biologist Graeme I. Bell. In fact, when he came to the University of Chicago 3« years ago as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute associate investigator, he began examining non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus partly because it was such a complex challenge.

"The advantage to working on a difficult problem is that no one publication is going to have the complete answer," he says. "That was an important consideration when I was trying to get set up. I didn't want to start...

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