Click for next page ( 2


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 1
Executive Summary The opportunities for exciting advances in the biological sciences, many of them capitalizing on our newfound knowledge of the structure of biological macromolecules, have never been greater than they are at present. String with the establishment of the structure of DNA in 1953 and continuing especially with the demonstration 20 years later that genes could be modified and moved pre- cisely from one organism to another, the flow of biological discovery has swelled from a trickle into a torrent. We base much of what we regard as our civiliza- tion including agriculture, forestry, and medicine~irectly on our ability to manipulate the characteristics of plants, animals, and microorganisms. Thus, these discoveries have profound implications for our welfare. They teach us to utilize the productive capacity of the global ecosystem on a sustainable basis. Many of the recent advances in biology have been driven by new methods. Among the most significant have been those involving the uses of recombinant DNA, monoclonal antibodies, and microchemical instrumentation. Today, given a small amount of protein, we can clone the corresponding gene through the com- bined use of protein sequencing, DNA synthesis, and recombinant DNA tech- niques. From the readily determined nucleotide sequence of the cloned gene, the entire amino acid sequence of the protein can be derived. Alternatively, if part of a gene sequence is known, a peptide fragment can be produced that in turn can be used to generate antibodies that will detect the protein produced by the gene. Moreover, if the protein sequence of a particular gene product is known, a corresponding gene can be constructed for optimum expression in bacteria, yeast, or mammalian cells which makes even the minor proteins of a cell available in virtually unlimited amounts. As a result of the applications of these techniques, of powerful computers, and of imaginatively constructed new instruments, all fields of biology are being

OCR for page 1
2 OPPORTUNITIES IN BIOLOGY revitalized. The methods necessary for a complete understanding of living systems at the molecular level now seem to be at hand. We have already learned a great deal about how the structures of proteins determine their functions in living cells, and we shall learn a great deal more during the next few years, provided that we continue to support these efforts adequately. Discoveries of structure-function relationships are of fundamental importance for understanding all of the interac- tions within biological systems, from the determination of our ability to resist infection, to our understanding of the way a fertilized egg develops into an adult human, to the very ways we dream, imagine, and reason. Biology holds the key to understanding these and all other processes fundamental to life. Not only the fates of research institutions and universities, but increasingly the fates of nations will be decided by their abilities to use the facts and principles of biology with wisdom and ingenuity. Biotechnology will provide the basis of many of the advances of the future and will lay the foundations for the accumula- tion of wealth at many levels; will the United States maintain its current lead in this area over Japan and the European community? Who will make the most effective use of monoclonal antibodies and develop the chemical engineering basis for producing adequate supplies of the new products that are being devel- oped so rapidly? The answers to questions such as these are of fundamental im- portance, but they will also have much to do with determining the contours of the world of the twenty-~rst century. Over the next few years, great advances should be seen in health care with the development of powerful new therapeutic drugs and improved methods of diag- nosis. Some of the the world's greatest health problems will reach critical levels in the next two decades. The disease most discussed is acquired immune defi- ciency syndrome (AIDS), but other problems may be of equal importance, such as atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, and many forms of cancer. All of these problems, however, should be increasingly controlled through improved diagno- sis and treatment. Many diseases are far better understood at a functional and mo- lecular level than they were a few years ago. Recombinant DNA techniques will help greatly in the development of improved vaccines and of specific DNA probes that can be used for carrier detection. In addition, recombinant DNA techniques will facilitate the production of powerful cell-regulating molecules such as growth factors. It is hoped that these compounds will play an important role in the therapy of many intractable diseases. Furthermore, as we understand more about the complete sequence of nucleotides in the genomes of organisms, including hu- mans, our power to deal with such problems will increase dramatically. For improvements in plant-based agriculture, research on photosynthesis, nitrogen fixation, growth and development, plant-pathogen interactions, and the ways plants cope with environmental stress is of fundamental importance. As these processes become better understood in molecular detail, significant ad- vances in agricultural productivity can be made. For example, anything that would allow plants to grow well in conditions of limited water or light or in

OCR for page 1
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 3 environments colder or hotter than normal would be significant; yet we currently understand too little about the molecular mechanisms of plant survival under adverse conditions. It is ironic that a time so fUled with great opportunity should also be a time when a major fraction of the diversity of life on earth, perhaps a quarter over the next few decades, is in danger of extinction. Each species that disappears takes with it an elaborate and unique pattern of gene expression that evolved over many millions of years, about which we know little. Acting prudently for the future demands that we greatly accelerate the pace of taxonomic inventory and that we chart the poorly understood contours of life on earth, especially in the tropics, while we still have the chance. Our continued failure to do so will cause us to lose the opportunity to understand the baseline conditions for many biological phe- nomena, including numerous biological strategies that might have been applied for human benefit. The broadening of ecological principles and their application to the charac- terization and protection of the world's biological diversity will remain important issues for the foreseeable future. For example, efforts are now being mounted to slow the loss of biological diversity and the destruction of tropical forests through improved land management, better application of the principles of conservation biology, and the formation of seed banks. It is crucial that the United States provide leadership and support in this area. The changes in the atmosphere that have become evident in the 1980s (involving significant increases in carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases; the depletion of the ozone layer in the stratosphere; and air pollution, such as that associated with acid precipitation, on a regional scale) all highlight the intensity with which we are changing the earth on which we all depend for survival. Findings from biology and the other sciences must be used to provide stability for our children and grandchildren. As so often in human affairs, a time of maximum opportunity is also a time of maximum challenge. In preparing this report, we have attempted to provide a set of guideposts to the great advances in biology that are occurring today and to point out specific directions that appear to be worthy of special effort. We have also made some general recommendations about how the enterprise of biology might be strengthened. Finally, we believe that our narrative demonstrates the importance of vigorous funding for biological research. THE NEW BIOLOGY During the past two decades, biological research has been transformed from a collection of single-discipline endeavors to an interactive science in which tradi- tional disciplines are being bridged. Biologists have been aided by the develop- ment of new, powerful techniques and instruments, including recombinant DNA techniques, production of monoclonal antibodies, and microchemical techniques such as those used in synthesizing or sequencing macromolecules. Flow cytom

OCR for page 1
4 OPPORTUNITIES IN BIOLOGY etry, microscopy, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and computer applications in data collection and analysis have also been improved and have produced syner- gistic interactions that have shortened the time between fundamental research and its application. To encourage the development of new, improved techniques and instrumentation for biology, the barriers separating biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering must be breached by a new generation of well-trained scientists and engineers. STRUCTURAL BIOLOGY All biological functions depend ultimately on events that occur at the mo- lecular level. These events are controlled by macromolecules, which can be viewed as machines designed to perform specific tasks. These macromolecules include proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, lipids, and complexes among them. The ultimate goal of research in this area is to predict the structure, function, and behavior of these macromolecules from their chemical formulas. The study of three-dimensional structure at the atomic level emphasizes x-ray diffraction techniques, which produce revealing images of these molecules. Among the structures determined thus far are those of nucleic acids, antibodies, and enzymes. In addition, these techniques have been used to determine the structure of complex molecular assemblies such as virus particles and the photosynthetic reaction center of Rhodopseudomonas viridis. It is likely that with the extension of x-ray analytical methods, the structures of even larger complex molecular as- semblies such as ribosomes will be determined over the next few decades. A key element in determining how proteins function is understanding how they fold into their three-dimensional structures. This folding problem now seems ripe for major advances, largely because new experimental tools and expanding data bases of protein sequences have become available. We can now design and construct new macromolecules through the use of recombinant DNA technology and chemical synthesis methods. These proteins will provide useful new pharmaceuticals and experimental models of protein function. GENES AND CELLS The combined application of many molecular techniques is leading to rapid and impressive advances in our understanding of the cell, the fundamental unit of which all living organisms are built. The ways in which cellular components interact to propagate, store, and express an organism's genetic information are steadily becoming clearer. Questions that have concerned biologists for decades, such as the mechanisms of DNA replication, recombination, repair, and gene expression, are being elucidated at a level of detail that was unimaginable earlier. Biologists are discovering the molecular basis for the complex interactive matrix of chemical reactions and transport systems inside the cell. Protein synthesis occurs in He cytoplasm and is followed by protein traffic to the correct

OCR for page 1
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY s intracellular location, which involves the regulation of protein synthesis, target- ing, and sorting. The mitochondrion, a cellular organelle possibly derived from ancient symbiotic bacteria, produces most of the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) for the cell, and ATP is in turn the direct source of most of the energy required for cell functions. Studies of the interaction between the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes and of the tertiary structure of the oxidative phosphorylation apparatus are of fundamental importance in appreciating the ways cells function as living units. An understanding of the basis of cellular motility is also central to our understanding of cells. Three types of protein polymers contribute to the cy- toskeleton and interact with force-producing enzymes to cause the motion of cells and organelles. Investigators have isolated and started to characterize the major molecular components of this system. This work has already contributed many new insights into the molecular basis for cellular organization and dynamics, but much remains to be learned. An area of cell research of special relevance to medicine is that centering on cell-to-cell communication mechanisms. Growth factors, hormones, and their receptors, coupled with signal-transduction mechanisms and second-messenger activity (cyclic adenosine monophosphate, inositol trisphosphate-diaclygylcerol, calcium ions and probably others) within the cell create a communication network that allows the cell to react to its surrounding environment. Many disease conditions, including cancer and certain types of mental illness, are believed to result directly from abnormal cellular regulation. Therefore, research in cellular structure, function, and communication should provide a deeper understanding of human disease and possibly result in improved treatments or even cures. Some diseases, such as atherosclerosis the disease that causes heart attacks and strokes represent a complex interaction of several different types of cells and of several factors elaborated by these cells that can lead to their abnormal multiplication. The development of monoclonal antibodies to unambiguously identify cell types and the application of tools of molecular biology to determine the nature of the growth factors and modifiers that regulate these cells are crucial for the understanding of many diseases of cell proliferation. Plant cells have many features in common with animal cells, but also differ from animal cells in many ways. For example, plant cells have plastics, large vacuoles, and rigid cell walls, and they are connected to one another by strands of cytoplasm called plasmodesmata. Plant cells also differ from animal cells in their metabolism. Research on many of these unique plant characteristics is progress- ing at a remarkable rate, with profound implications for agriculture. DEVELOPMENT Advances in understanding how biological molecules work are leading to understanding how an organism develops from a single cell to a complex individ- ual. The action of individual master control genes in directing and regulating the

OCR for page 1
6 OPPORTUNITIES IN BIOLOGY process of development is being dissected and is becoming better understood as a result. The differentiation of eggs and sperm, the chemical reactions that take place during and after fertilization, and the special regulation of the developmen- tal control of gene expression have all been recent subjects of fruitful investiga- tions. Gene expression has increasingly been shown to be highly regulated with respect to tissue, time, and position. Research is providing a clear view of how this information is utilized at the molecular level. One exciting area of research involves master control genes, such as the homeotic genes in Drosophila, which control the body plan of organisms. Similar genes are also being found in mammals. Mutation in these genes can drastically affect the morphology of an organism. To further the study of gene expression on basic developmental mechanisms, better techniques must be devised to selectively delete the action of a given gene at a specific time and place in the developmental process. We are now beginning to unravel the mechanisms that control cell movement and cell adhesion. It is these mechanisms that determine cell positions in an organism and the morphogenetic processes that shape tissues. The ability of cells to move correctly during the events of morphogenesis is controlled in part by their ability to adhere selectively to one another and to their extracellular environment. Various cell-adhesion molecules have been discovered, and some of them and their genes have been characterized in molecular detail. Research on these molecules, as well as on the extracellular matrix, are providing fascinating in- sights into cellular movement, the selectivity of cell association, and their roles in morphogenesis. Species differ not only in their cell types, but also in the pattern in which the cell types are arranged. Pattern formation operates during development to ensure the correct spatial arrangement of cells, tissues, and organs. Even though pattern formation lies at the heart of developmental biology, until recently it was rela- tively unstudied compared with other problems in development. Factors thought to be important in pattern formation are cell lineage, external molecules such as morphogens, and local cell-cell interactions. The extent to which these and possibly other factors play a role in pattern formation is now actively being investigated. Development does not stop with the formation of an adult organism. Devel- opmental processes regulate the number of cells in different tissues of the adult and the life-spans of adult organisms and individual cells. We anticipate that studies of cell interactions in the adult will lead to a greater understanding and control of such processes. Special circumstances exist that are unique to the developmental process in plants. For example, plants have indeterminate growth, no motile cells, and no defined germ line. Thus, even though plants and animals share many other developmental features, special insights are required into the investigation of plant development. In each of the areas of development mentioned-experimen

OCR for page 1
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY tat control of gene expression, the molecular analysis of morphogenesis and pattern formation, the elucidation of the cellular interactions that regulate growth, development, and senescence-great opportunities exist for continued investiga- tion and discovery. THE NERVOUS SYSTEM AND BEHAVIOR One of the most challenging and complex of all biological frontiers-a field of enormous potential for future research is an understanding of the ways in which the nerve cells of the brain direct behavior. Nerve cells are the processing and signaling units of the brain; they communicate by electrical and chemical means. Contemporary research on nerve cell signaling focuses on the variety of neurotransmitters and neuromodulators, their receptors, and transduction into electrical events or second-messenger activity. A technique called patch-clamp measurement has enabled neuroscientists to study the individual physiological events that occur in nerve cells and that underlie the transmission and processing of information. Recombinant DNA techniques have made it possible to identify and sequence some neurotransmitter and neuromodulator genes and their recep- tors. We are beginning to understand the mechanisms underlying simple forms of learning and the short-term memory to which they give rise. For example, short- term memory involves second-messenger systems similar to those used for other cellular processes, and long-term memory is likely to involve alterations in gene expression. These links between research on learning and molecular and cellular biology will provide a greater understanding of the mechanisms of learning. The development of the nervous system can now be described in broad outline. Research on neural induction, neuronal proliferation, migration, cell aggregation, cytodifferentiation, axonal outgrowth, and nerve cell death and process elimination is providing clues to the early assessment of the developing nervous system. Although many important questions still need to be answered, biologists are now armed with the techniques to answer them. One fascinating area of research involves the mechanism of the transport of materials within the neuron: slow and rapid axonal transport. New techniques of microinjection, quantitative fluorescence video microscopy, and labeling of samples with antibody probes for light and electron microscopy are providing insights into such questions as: What materials are transported at each rate? What is the nature of the transport mechanism? What role does axonal transport play during the growth of neural processes and during normal neuronal function? Our understanding of how the brain controls the movement of the body is undergoing dramatic changes. For more than a century, the primary goal of those interested in the control of movement was to map the areas of the brain concerned with movement. We are now beginning to investigate how it all works: How does the brain decide when we move? How does the brain select targets? What is 7

OCR for page 1
8 OPPORTUNITIES IN BIOLOGY the speed, accuracy, and force of particular movements? Again, new methods make possible collaborative efforts that increase the yields of scientific studies. Important methods used in research on motor control include brain imaging tech- niques, robotics, and artificial intelligence. Fundamental understanding of the neurobiology of cognition will have im- portant practical applications. For example, research has begun to guide efforts to produce specific remediation techniques in developmental dyslexia Here too, methodological developments provide unprecedented opportunities for exploring the human brain, and they are yielding important findings relating cognition to neurobiology in such areas as sensory perception, learning and memory, atten- tion, language, and the psychobiology of development. Central to the study of the nervous system is the desire to understand the abnormalities of behavior produced by various neurological and psychological disorders. The study of the nervous system will continue to provide the scientific and therapeutic underpinnings for neurology and psychiatry- for example, the application of molecular genetic approaches to diagnose neurological diseases and the application of modem biochemical and imaging techniques to diagnose and treat psychiatric disorders. Even the few examples cited here make it clear that the study of the nervous system will be a subject of central importance in biology for decades into the future. THE IMMUNE SYSTEM AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES The immune system is a potent defense developed by vertebrates to deal with the challenge presented by pathogenic microbes, malignant cells, and foreign macromolecules. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the immune system is the specificity of antibodies and of T-cell receptors for the antigens (foreign mole- cules) with which they must cope. Elegant studies have revealed the complicated mechanism of genetic rearrangement that is partly responsible for the specificity in antibody and receptor molecules. The processes through which the individual immunoglobulin and T-cell-receptor genes are activated and through which the rearrangements are controlled are currently a subject of intense investigation. One of the important tasks that lies ahead is the identification of membrane molecules through which immunoglobulin molecules signal the activation of the inositol phospholipid metabolic pathways, which play a major role in the intracel- lular signaling process. An additional task will be the detailed description of the molecular events that occur as a result of the activation of this signaling pathway. Structural studies of the key molecules in the immune system are now yielding the details of major structures involved in immune regulation, deepening our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of the regulation of the immune response, the complement system, and other critical elements of the immune system. Ultimately, the results of these studies will lead to practical benefits, including the more efficient use of organ transplants by limiting rejection, the

OCR for page 1
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 9 therapeutic use of molecules (such as lymphokines) that regulate the immune response, and the possible amelioration of the consequences of infection by the human immunodef~ciency virus. Similarly, advances are being made in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of microbial pathogenicity, the ex- tension of which will create a solid foundation for disease prevention and treat- ment. EVOLUTION, SYSTEMATICS, AND ECOLOGY The mechanisms of evolution provide the key for understanding the marvel- ous diversity of life on earth. In the 1980s, the applications of molecular analyses have provided significant new insights in this area, as in all other biological disciplines. For example, more than 15 million nucleotides of DNA sequence have now been determined, revealing the molecular construction of genes and proteins and the detailed evolutionary relationships they have to one another. The application of these and related molecular and genetic techniques has made it possible to analyze the genetic differences between species with much greater precision than was formerly possible, and thus to better understand these differ- ences and the ways in which they have arisen in the past. The study of the evolution of genome organization and composition is just beginning, but major long-range opportunities are available through the application of new techniques for cloning and mapping large DNA molecules. The field of systematics charts the diversity of life on earth, but its capabili- ties are severely challenged in this age of rapid extinction. Approximately 1.4 million species of plants, animals, and microorganisms have been described to date, but we do not know even to an order of magnitude the number of species of organisms that exist on earth. Thus, it is estimated that between several million and perhaps as many as 30 million or more await discovery. This is not only an academic matter, but one with enormous potential consequences. Because we base our civilization to a large extent on our ability to manipulate the properties of organisms to produce food, shelter, clothing, and many other commodities, a carefully planned effort to identify additional useful ones will prove richly re- warding. The rapid pace of destruction and loss, especially in the tropics, makes it necessary for us to accelerate our efforts to understand the nature of evolution of species and communities. The field of paleontology has been rejuvenated by the introduction of power- ful modeling techniques that have enriched our understanding of extinction. Theories have been advanced about the possible role of asteroid collisions in major extinction events such as that which ended the Cretaceous period 65 million years ago, and we have gained a new appreciation of the ways major evolutionary lines originate. Meanwhile, the introduction of electron microscopic techniques, an improved understanding of which geological formations to examine, and special types of chemical analysis have pushed our knowledge of the origin of life

OCR for page 1
10 OPPORTUNITIES IN BIOLOGY back to at least 3.5 billion years ago, within a billion years of the origin of the solar system itself. The structure and functioning of communities and ecosystems represent the most complex levels of biological integration. Drawing theories and practical methodologies from all of the other parts of biology, ecology provides feedback to them by illuminating the adaptive significance of characteristics of all kinds. As the theoretical basis of the field improves, its major concepts are being pressed into service to assist the human race (which has doubled its numbers since 1954) to manage the global ecosystem in a sustainable manner. Over the past several decades, ecosystem studies have proceeded from simple descriptions of the amount of energy or materials in an area to measurement of the rates and regulation of these flows. The development of new approaches to ecosystem studies, such as the watershed-ecosystems approach and the establish- ment of parameters for realistic models of air and water circulation, offers an opportunity for a much broader array of studies. Present attempts to establish predictive models for global change, utilizing remote sensing and similar tech- niques must be continued. Mathematical methods are being used to provide estimates of the relative importance of different factors at ecosystem, community, and population levels, so as to enhance predictive capabilities. At the same time, new refined technolo- gies make it possible to analyze very small quantities of chemicals in ecosystems, thus helping us to understand communication within and between species. Gener- ally, the field of behavioral ecology provides a bridge to neurobiology, which is clarifying the neural substrates of behavior. Future investigations in this area will improve understanding of such critical areas as communication, foraging behav- ior, sexual behavior, kinship, learning, and the roles of the sexes in an ecological and evolutionary context. These results have both theoretical and practical impor- tance, as for the control of pests and diseases in man-made ecosystems, such as cultivated fields. Ecological principles have been employed in formation of the new discipline of conservation biology, in which modem studies of systematics, evolution, and ecology are being applied to the problem of species and community survival. They also provide the basis for understanding biological invasions of pests such as weeds and the gypsy moth. Ecological principles will also help us better utilize genetically altered organisms that provide such outstanding opportunities for enhancing agricultural productivity and sustainability. PLANT BIOLOGY AND AGRICULTURE The advent of the biological revolution in which we are now engaged has provided an extraordinary opportunity to broaden our approach to plant agricul- ture. The modern discipline of molecular biology and its associated recombinant DNA technology are simultaneously driving rapid advances on two frontier~the

OCR for page 1
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 11 basic and the applied. The concepts and tools that have emerged from this discipline have rapidly accelerated the pace at which fundamental knowledge about plants is expanding. These tools are being applied to real-world, practical problems, with the result that genetically engineered plants have already been produced that resist herbicides, certain viral infections, and some insects. The rapidity with which this success has been achieved illustrates not only that the manipulation of plant genetic material to our advantage in attacking practical agricultural problems is feasible, but that the rate at which we have arrived at this point far exceeds the expectations of those who embarked on this enterprise a few years ago. It is equally clear, however, that these successes represent the very smallest of beginnings. The interactions between plants and their pathogens are also biologically intricate and of fundamental scientific and commercial interest. The study of these interactions has been enhanced by new techniques in cell culture, chemical analysis, and molecular biology. Significant breakthroughs can be expected in the molecular basis of host-pathogen interactions, the mechanisms controlling the expression of virulence and resistance genes, and the molecular details of the transfer and integration of T-DNA (DNA from the bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens3 into the plant chromosome. Central to much of this research is our current ability to study mechanisms of communication between organisms and between cells. Transmembrane signaling, second-messenger activity, and long- distance communication will be active areas of research during the next decade. In addition, expanding the applications of computer technology to epidemiologi- cal studies will allow better predictions of plant disease epidemics and thus the more rational application of control procedures. INFRASTRUCTURE OF BIOLOGY RESEARCH AND RECOMMENDATIONS In order to accomplish much of the research described in this report, an increased effort will need to be mounted to adequately support the infrastructure of biology research. Many components contribute to this infrastructure, and these must be strengthened in order to ensure the health of biology over the next decade. Among these components are training, employment, equipment and facilities, and funding. In addition, the role of large data bases and repositories needs special consideration, as do the relative merits of developing large research centers compared with additional support for individual investigators. T ~ raining Despite impressive advances and great opportunities in biology, we are rapidly approaching a crisis in training of biology researchers. Current levels of support appear inadequate in light of the shortages of trained personnel predicted for the late 1990s.

OCR for page 1
12 OPPORTUNITIES IN BIOLOGY Shortages of trained technical personnel in biology are now occurring at the bachelor's and master's level. Attempts should be made to enhance university training programs at these levels, especially for biotechnology-related areas (bio- chemistry, cell biology, microbiology, immunology, molecular genetics, and bioprocess engineering). Shortages of Ph.D.s in biotechnology-related areas are anticipated in the- late 1990s. Therefore, appropriate educational programs should be initiated and supported immediately. The recent employment and educational advances made by women in the life sciences must be fostered and encouraged to provide an attractive research and career environment. Every attempt should be made to encourage complete representation of minorities in the biological sciences. This will require in turn that greater attention be paid to the precollege education of minorities so that equal training opportunities will exist in college. As biological research becomes more sophisticated, the need increases to develop interdisciplinary and flexible training programs for students, postdoctoral fellows, and established scientists. Equipment and Facilities . Because of the ever-increasing need for and expense of laboratory equip- ment, funds to provide for specific pieces of equipment should be available. This is especially true when requested equipment is to be placed in a shared facility. The development of instrumentation to be applied to a variety of biologi- cal problems should be accelerated. Centers can provide a valuable approach to research, but the operation of a center should not interfere with the funding or creativity of the individual investi- gator. Funding Agencies should increase their programs that provide long-term and start- up funding and should look with favor on innovative projects by qualified investi- gators that propose new, creative research directions. Information Science awl Collections An assessment of the information-handling requirements for biology should be made. Special emphasis should be given to the training of biologists in the information sciences and to the maintenance and enhancement of large-scale data bases.

OCR for page 1
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 13 A unified approach needs to be adopted in organizing and maintaining collections of preserved and living specimens and other biological materials. This will require increased funding and attention. International Cooperation The United States has long encouraged and benefited from international cooperation in biological research. As other countries increasingly emerge as valuable sources of quality research, this policy of cooperation should be strength- ened.

OCR for page 1