Science  31 Oct 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5646, pp. 757

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  1. EXHIBIT: The Sweet Story of Insulin

    Few scientists ever enjoy as fruitful a 5 years as Frederick Banting, J. J. R. Macleod, James Collip, and Charles Best. In 1921 and 1922, the researchers isolated insulin and demonstrated its power to ameliorate diabetes. By 1926, doctors around the world were treating patients with the hormone. Delve into the discovery and early use of insulin at this site from the University of Toronto, where the researchers performed much of the work. You can browse some 7000 documents, including the investigators' letters, notebook pages, landmark papers on insulin, and photos. The site also offers a timeline, biographies of the scientists, and writings from grateful early patients.

    Insulin's history has its sour moments, as newspaper clippings on the site reveal. The Nobel committee awarded the 1923 prize for physiology or medicine to Macleod and Banting, snubbing Best and Collip and fomenting a brouhaha over credit that continues today. However, the winners shared the prize money with their overlooked colleagues.

  2. NET NEWS: NIH Tests First E-Grants

    Finally plunging into the digital age, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is testing an online grants application that will end the frenzied ritual of mailing off stacks of paper copies.

    This month, NIH received its first batch of 14 “experimental e-grants” from a few volunteer institutions. More institutions will soon be added, and most of NIH's 37,000 basic R01 grants should be paperless within a year. The agency lags behind the National Science Foundation (NSF), which over 9 years has moved its entire grants process online. But NIH will “leapfrog ahead” in technology, says John McGowan, who heads NIH's electronic research administration. For example, whereas NSF has a Web-based form, scientists applying to NIH have several options, including custom software—sort of like TurboTax—that makes it easy to package graphics and text.

    Already, principal investigators (PIs) can see their grant status and peer-review scores on NIH's Web site. Nearly 3000 of NIH's 50,000 or so PIs have registered since July, says McGowan. “It saves a lot of time,” says biochemist Suzanne Jackowski of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

    By eliminating paper, NIH hopes to slash grant review time, now as long as a year, to 6 months or less, McGowan says. Sign up at:

  3. DATABASE: Antiviral Armory

    A new online database from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases profiles more than 100,000 compounds tested against HIV or the pathogens that exploit AIDS patients' faltering immunity. The site draws on information plucked from papers, conference abstracts, and other sources. Each entry supplies the compound's chemical structure, PubMed references, and other facts, such as the company or lab developing it. Profiled chemicals range from the protease inhibitor lactacystin to a compound called HIP, which might suppress AIDS-related cancer. Smaller linked databases let you glean results from studies of molecules aimed at particular viral enzymes, opportunistic infections, and cell types.

  4. EXHIBIT: Secrets of the Stones

    Fifty years ago, scientists discerned ancient images of axes and a dagger incised into the columns of Stonehenge. Now researchers employing 3D laser scans have illuminated further carvings that erosion had rendered invisible to the naked eye. Check out the once-hidden depictions and learn about their possible significance at Stonehenge Laser Scans, a new site from Wessex Archaeology, a nonprofit based in Salisbury, U.K., and Archaeoptics Ltd. of Glasgow. The carvings—one of a 10-cm-high ax, the other possibly of two axes superimposed—are of types made around 1800 B.C., some 500 years after Stonehenge was erected. Similar carvings on other monuments from the time are associated with burials. The researchers, who describe their findings in the November issue of British Archaeology, have scanned parts of three of the surviving 83 stones and expect that others contain additional artwork. The site's animations show 360° views of the stone circle and close-ups of carvings.