Using Father's Day to drive home his message about improving men's health, President Clinton on Saturday released the first portion of almost $60 million in prostate cancer research grants.

Clinton said the largest-ever federal research awards for finding better treatments for the disease will pay for "new studies to determine the cause of prostate cancer (and) develop new methods of prevention and detection." Grant recipients, selected from more than 600 applicants, began receiving about $25 million in funds on Saturday. Another $34 million will be released to researchers next month.Clinton said that nearly 200,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year; as many as 40,000 will die from it. That is about the same number of women who die of breast cancer each year, he added.

Clinton pledged that his administration would direct as many resources as possible to combating prostate cancer, which he termed "one of the greatest health threats" men face.

"For far too long, too little was known about prostate cancer, too little was said about it out of embarrassment and fear. And because of this, too little was done about it.

Turning to another health issue - smoking - the president again chastised Republican senators for killing an anti-smoking bill that would have funneled a portion of funds raised from a cigarette price increase and tobacco industry fines to medical research.

"They voted against increased cancer research and against saving lives," Clinton said.

In the Republican radio address, Rep. Bill Archer of Texas used Father's Day to reiterate his appeal to his fellow lawmakers to grant federal tax breaks to encourage parents to save for their children's education - in elementary and secondary schools.

"When it comes to strengthening America's morals and values, nothing counts more than giving our children an education that is second to none," Archer said of his education initiative.

The plan would allow parents, grandparents, businesses and unions to contribute up to $2,000 a year to educational savings accounts that would grow tax-free. The money could be used to pay for a variety of educational costs, including tuition, school supplies, tutoring and expenses incurred by children with disabilities.

Clinton and many Democrats have expressed opposition to the measure, saying its primary beneficiaries would be affluent families who send children to private schools.

The Defense Department prostate cancer research program is modeled after the widely acclaimed peer-review breast cancer program administered by the Pentagon.