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CHAPTER THREE THE WORLD OF BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH The life sciences embrace a great array of intellectual activity, a continuum extending from the search for the origin of life and the detailed structure of the macromolecules that make life possible to understanding of the total ecology of planet Earth. The millions of micro-organisms and plant and animal species interacting in the air, the soil, freshwater ponds and streams, and the oceans afford a never-ending variety of objects of fascinating in- quiry. This endeavor has enhanced man's capacity to manage and protect his environment, to feed and clothe himself, and to prolong his comfortable and fruitful years. The inquiry itself is conducted in the laboratory, in research institutes and hospitals, in experimental tracts and ponds, by walks in the woods, by surveillance from the skies, from ships at sea, and on treks through the jungle, observing both undisturbed and managed nature. Those so engaged range from amateur nature lovers to directors of large institutes. They work in and out of institutions large and small; they work with private, state, and federal resources in institutions of higher learning, nonprofit research institutes, research hospitals, federal, state, and local laboratories, and in the organized multidisciplinary teams of industry. In 1966 the National Register of Scientific Personnel identified approxi- mately 84,000 individuals with diverse levels of training and educational 220
THE WORLD OF BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH backgrounds who classified themselves as working life scientists. The identification of these people was possible through the cooperation of the two major biological research societies, the Federation of American Socie- ties for Experimental Biology and the American Institute of Biological Sciences. The Federation issued questionnaires to approximately 24,300 people, the great majority of whom had earned doctoral degrees. Of these, some 20,100, or 83 percent, responded to the Register questionnaires. The Ameri- can Institute of Biological Sciences contributed approximately 59,800 names, but the proportion of doctorate holders among this group is lower, and hence fewer of them meet the conditions for inclusion in our survey as individual life scientists. Approximately 40,000 people, or 67 percent, responded to the Institute's questionnaire and the proportion of doctorate holders represented by those respondents is higher than that of the original 59,800 individuals surveyed by that society. The overall response to the Register from the two societies was approximately 65 percent and should comprise most working biologists. From these numbers it can be estimated that 70 to 80 percent of doctoral-degree holders responded to the National Register in 1966. However, one can only guess what fraction of American biologists, with or without doctoral degrees, this represents. It is estimated * that, in the aggregate, $2,264 million was invested in research in the life sciences in fiscal year 1967, of which 60.3 percent came from the federal government, 7.3 percent from the resources of nonprofit institutions, and 30.0 percent from industry. In its entirety, therefore, research in the life sciences has become one of the major pursuits of Ameri- can society. This chapter is devoted to a description of some of the com- ponents of the life sciences research system, based largely on information gathered from responses to our two questionnaires (Appendixes A and B) . Detailed information on the gross parameters of the total system was revealed by the first of our two questionnaires: It contains 14,362 scien- tists, of whom 12,383 were investigators as here defined, viz., they devoted more than 20 percent of their time to research. In 1966 they published more than 24,000 original articles, 489 books, 1,100 reviews, and 7,500 in-house reports and other contnbutions. The universe revealed by the second questionnaire contains 1,256 academic departments with an aggre- gate continuing staff of 18,608 scientists, with available research funds (direct costs only) totaling $304 million, operating in 325 acres of labora- tory space in which they directed the research and training of 23,287 * Basic Data Relating to the National Institutes of Health 1969, Associate Director for Program Planning and Evaluation and the Division of Research Grants, National Institutes of Health. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1969, p. 4.
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