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Head of NIH Praises Investments In Science

The director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) says America's investment in science is key to stimulating the economy. Francis Collins is in San Diego for the conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Collins called San Diego one of the nation's hot spots for biotechnology. And the NIH gave nearly a billion dollars in grants to the San Diego region for biomedical research in the last fiscal year.

A good deal of that NIH money has come from the federal stimulus package. Collins said the mission of the NIH isn't economic development. But he said economists agree that more than half of the economic growth in the U.S., since World War II, has come from investments in science.

"So if we're in a hole now, and we feel as if we're losing ground and the rest of the world is eating our lunch, science and technology seems like an awfully smart thing to prioritize," said Collins.

He added that if the 20th century was the century of physics, and the 21st century will be the century of biology.

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