Americans today live longer and are healthier in general than any other time in history. Much of this success is due to the government's willingness to strongly support biomedical research. Unfortunately, this support is constantly under attack despite rapid advances in molecular technology that potentially could offer medical treatments or cures.

Traditionally, biomedical scientists and physicians have not been effective as political activists. As a group we have been more involved in running our laboratories, minding our own business, and assuming that the rest of the world would appreciate our lofty altruism enough to keep those research dollars rolling in.

If this quiet self-absorption worked in the past, it certainly does not today. Scientists and physician- investigators are under unprecedented pressure to scrounge for research dollars and justify their professional existence. Case in point: Only about 10 percent to 20 percent of submitted research applications are currently funded, meaning that...

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