NewsNational Science Foundation

Panel Backs S&T Centers Program

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Science  16 Aug 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5277, pp. 866
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5277.866


A once-controversial program at the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support university-based centers studying multidisciplinary topics has been given an important endorsement. A joint committee of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine finds that the 7-year-old experiment in funding “medium-size” science through Science and Technology Centers (STCs) should be continued. The program, begun in 1989 by then-NSF director Erich Bloch to fund projects too risky or broad for single labs to tackle, was seen by some researchers at a threat to the limited pot of grant money available to individual scientists. But the panel concluded that most of the centers “are producing high-quality world-class research that would not have been possible without a center structure and presence.”