Don't Tread on My Lab

Researchers brace themselves for a new era of tighter control and stingier funding from Washington

Science is like a flashlight; what it illuminates depends on where it is pointed. Traditionally, U.S. scientists have been free to decide for themselves where to focus their research. From time to time, politicians and interest groups would lobby for specific agendas -- space exploration, say, or AIDS or breast cancer. But by and large, science in America has been run by the scientists.

That is about to change. In what could be the most significant redirection of U.S. science policy since World War II, the Clinton Administration this month is launching an ambitious Cabinet-level effort to set national priorities and...

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