Much of the administration of the scientific endeavor can be neatly placed into two groups: those who work at acquiring the money, and those who work at bestowing the money. Mostly at universities and colleges, the acquirers direct offices of sponsored research, large research departments, or can be vice presidents of research or graduate schools. The bestowers are primarily program officers at such government agencies as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation and private and corporate foundations.

The group bestowing money includes Lisa Brooks, a program officer in the division of extramural research at the National Human Genome Research Institute, who jokes that on a day-to-day basis, "I'm on the phone a lot and I organize meetings." Seriously, her responsibilities, along with the hundreds of other grant administrators across NIH, include handling grant applications from the time they come through the door to when they're...

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