Biomedical teaching powerhouses of the world relax: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) won't be muscling onto your turf after all. NIH officials last month quietly abandoned controversial plans to create a doctoral program on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland.
NIH had planned to seek Congress's permission to admit about 15 students a year to a 5-year program in "disease-oriented integrative biology." But in June, three members of an influential NIH advisory panel came out against the plan, noting that U.S. universities are already under fire for producing too many biologists (Science, 11 June, p. 1743). The row prompted NIH director Harold Varmus and deputy director for intramural research Michael Gottesman to give up the idea. "This was obviously beginning to be a source of irritation," says Gottesman.
Instead, the pair will focus on expanding programs that allow grad students to earn credit for work done at NIH. The agency already has such partnerships with the University of Maryland and Duke, George Washington, and Johns Hopkins universities.