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President George W. Bush's decision to halt historic increases in the National Institutes of Health budget in fiscal year 2004 raises questions about how much the agency and the researchers it funds should expect to receive in the coming years. With a possible war on the horizon, the economy in a slump, and dreams of future federal surpluses fading, policymakers and scientists suggest that funding other science-related agencies may be a higher priority. Beltway observers also question whether NIH researchers, accustomed to ample funds, should have been better prepared for the inevitable buck in the funding trend.

"This has been forecast from day one, five years ago," says Martin Apple, president of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents. "The question is what have we done to adapt to it. And if the answer is 'nothing,' then it's partially our problem as well as everybody else's."


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