The strategic role of the private foundations Purnell Choppin observes in this issue (p. 16-17) that “the health of the biomedical research enterprise [in the United States] is inseparable from the health of the NIH.” Since two thirds of federal support for biomedical research in this country goes into or through the NIH, and since that amounts to one third of total national support for basic research in biomedicine, one can only agree with the statement of the president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Nonetheless, the Hughes organization, which will disburse about $230 million in 1988, is certainly making a mark on the course and character of U.S. biomedical research. With assets of $5 billion and an annual budget comparable to that of a midsized institute at the NIH, HHMI has focused professional and public attention on non-governmental funding sources.

Besides government and industry support for biomedical research, and...

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