Nearly three years ago, the federal government gave Nancy Connell the green light to investigate how people respond to infection by Bacillus anthracis, the bacterial agent that causes anthrax. With $3 million (US) from the Department of Defense, Connell hoped to learn how to detect the bacteria within hours of infection. But thanks to the hurdles put in her path, it took until this past July for Connell to get her hands on the bacterial strain for her study. Today, her team at the Center for BioDefense at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey works 12-hour days to make up for lost time.

"It was a really long wait and a frustrating wait,'' said Connell, the center's director. Connell's predicament--and similar ones of other scientists--raises questions as to whether the federal government is working at cross-purposes in its effort to fight bioterrorism. As the National Institutes...

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