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The practice of science is about thinking, doing and communicating. All too often,  individuals and institutions fail at the very first step. The smoke and mirrors of  perceived demands and peer pressure on what we should do with our research  is not conducive to calm, interactive thinking in choosing our research directions.  Individuals and institutions choose problems tailored to attract resources rather  than to convince researchers that their problems are worth funding. The second  step, is the doing of science upon being clear on what we want to do. While  resources and facilities are indeed vital, here too its the mind rather than matter  that hamstrings many a good idea from moving to fruition. While there is always  much room for individual brilliance and the consequent successes of small  groups, many aspects of our science today are better done by interactions and  collaborations. The skewed peer-group pressure in the life sciences is a ballast  against scientific curiosity and the spirit of inquiry driving science: concerns such  as how credit will be apportioned to authors in a collaboration often prevent the  start of interactions. Thus, while collaborations can often serve better science,  the career path for those who chronically do so can appear to be fraught. Finally,  in communicating our work, the sometimes crudely stated importance given to  where a manuscript is published rather than what it contains can become the tail  that wags the dog of science.

If there is one general success that NCBS can be proud of, in addition to building  a robust foundation of scientific excellence, it is its demonstration that it is  possible in today’s environment - at the individual and institutional level - to focus  on quality thinking, doing and communicating and not be distracted by the real  and imaginary external pressures I have outlined above. You will see the results  of this refreshing attitude in this, our first ‘slim’ report: A range of science that  comes from our scientists choosing anything but the boring to work on. In doing  their work, they benefit in a range of ways from interactions and collaborations  of all kinds, all of which have only enhanced everyone’s intellectual standing.  Finally, in communicating our work, this curiosity driven science has resulted in  wonderful publications of depth and value. Looking back on our 20 years, this  report will give you a glimpse of the quality of science from our young median-  cohort, our many very new colleagues and our tail of vigorous near 20-year  residents. Lest this sound too self-congratulatory, our readers should be assured  that we wake up each day and worry about the sky falling on our head: while  we like to communicate our successes, we are wary of being dulled by even legitimate propaganda

K. VijayRaghavan
NCBS Director