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What does it take to get a new, large National Institutes of Health (NIH) research grant in these lean times?

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Drug companies are looking outside their own labs for new products

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Andrew Schneider is one of the country's most accomplished investigative journalists. His work has won not just one, but two Pulitzer Prizes, and countless other awards. I had the privilege of meeting him when both of us were finalists for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting at Harvard. My team lost. So did his.

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If you, like me, were wondering how a guy like Dr. Conrad Murray, who had not bothered keeping up with his studies enough to continue his certification as a cardiologist, could become the personal physician to the King of Pop, it's instructive to look at Dr. Jagat Narula.

Most of you won't know that name, but his career illuminates the gap between what the public expects when they see "Dr." in front of a person's name and what is often the reality.

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A federal court of appeals recently upheld a lower court's 2006 decision that found the tobacco industry guilty of racketeering and fraud. The House of Representatives has already voted to give the F.D.A. powers to regulate tobacco products, and the Senate is considering a similar vote. It's time for universities such as the University of California to wake up and cut their research ties with Big Tobacco, which has long used university research results to defraud the public.

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Mark Katches is the deputy managing editor for projects at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He leads a team of reporters who have been watch-dogging the use of chemicals in food containers and other products for the past two years.

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I wrote a post earlier this week about a Nieman Reports article by Dr. John Abramson, a clinical instructor at Harvard and outspoken critic of the pharmaceutical industry. After serving in the National Health Service Corps, Abramson worked as a family physician for 20 years in Massachusetts.

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Public hospitals have been closing at an alarming rate. Last month, the troubled Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Center in Los Angeles announced it was preparing to reopen after years of quality concerns, but it has lived on the precipice for more than two decades.

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Dr. Steven A. Schroeder is distinguished professor of health and health care in the division of general internal medicine in the department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, where he also heads the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center. Between 1990 and 2002, he was president and chief executive officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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Dr. Lawrence Friedman is the director of the Department of Medicine at UC San Diego. He has been a board-certified internist and has been chief of the division of adolescent medicine at the University of California, San Diego since 1994. Friedman completed his residency and fellowships at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and Children's Hospital in Boston. He remained in Boston as a member of the Harvard Medical School faculty, practicing internal and adolescent medicine, until moving to San Diego in 1994.

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