Less Gas For The Bunsen Burners

The 1980s were heady years for research universities. They became the answer to everyone's R&D headaches. The federal government saw them as engines for U. S. competitiveness and cranked up research-and-development support some 119%, to $8.9 billion in 1989. State and local governments, hungry for a stream of inventions that would carve out new Silicon Valleys, showered schools with funding. Companies seeking to stretch R&D dollars put research projects on campus, where scientists were outfitted with advanced laboratories and lionized for their discoveries. Given the lures of money and opportunity, the ranks of university researchers nearly doubled--a rate far too high to sustain even with generous support. "We expanded our enterprise in a very casual way," says Bernard D. Davis, Harvard Medical School professor emeritus of microbiology.

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