Although the United States research community had its share of problems during 1993--a depressed job market, congressional budget cutting, the demise of the superconducting supercollider, and so forth--it was a banner year in many respects, as well, yielding abundant cause for us to be optimistic as we enter the new year.

Our hopes should by buoyed, for instance, by the knowledge that the National Institutes of Health is now led by Harold Varmus, a distinguished biologist. Varmus appears eager to defend the clear merits of basic biomedical investigation and to voice the demand, on behalf of the nation's bench scientists, for the financial--and philosophical--support that curiosity-driven research clearly deserves.

Not unrelated is the sense of confidence we can gain from the recent appointment of Neal Lane as director of the National Science Foundation. On page 11 of this issue, we present an exclusive interview with Lane, who also appears to...

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