Your May 10, 2004, editorial1 brought to mind an experience I had about 40 years ago when I was a graduate student in biochemistry at Penn State University. I got a call from a person in the Public Relations Office who wanted to interview me about my research. It was my first such request and I was delighted to meet with her and proud to tell about what I was doing: studying the biochemical basis of a rare inherited disease in chickens involving vitamin B2 (riboflavin) metabolism.

I carefully explained the research but the woman kept pressing me to explain the "practical value". Finally, I responded by saying that this work would help us to better understand normal cell processes that may be altered in diseases like cancer. That seemed to satisfy her and she promised to send me a copy of her story.

A number of weeks went...

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