At a reception for a member of Congress not long ago, a scientific colleague of ours was describing to the guest of honor the devastating effects that budgetary constraints at the National Institutes of Health are having on biomedical research. "Why is Congress not more supportive of NIH?" our colleague asked.

"Do you want me to be honest?" replied the congressman. "The NIH has made a lot of unfulfilled promises, wasting billions of dollars in the war against cancer and trying to prevent heart disease." Our colleague responded, "We have made tremendous strides. For example, today's New York Times describes the discovery by investigators at Johns Hopkins University of a gene that has a major influence on the development of colon cancer. By screening for this gene, we should be able to detect colon cancer at a much earlier stage."

The congressman shot back: "That's my point; that's Johns Hopkins...

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