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That discovery is fraught with unpredictability poses an enormous problem when evaluating research priorities and allocating funding. It also sends many scientists scrambling for cover when they are asked to prognosticate the future. The Scientist asked anyway.

Research scientists, venture capitalists, patent attorneys, even a biomedical professor-turned-mystery author offered their opinions on what will be the hottest new technologies five years hence. Their responses varied considerably. Some say bioterrorism is an imminent threat, and some say it's an improbable one. Some say proteomics will finally bear fruit, while others say it won't. Neural cartographers, structural biologists, and nanotechnologists will witness advances, they say.

Genomics will remain the foundation upon which all good things will come. "It is the means, not the end," says Charles Cantor, cofounder of the Human Genome Project and chief scientific officer of Sequenom, a high-performance DNA-analysis company in San Diego. Cantor predicts...

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