The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences -- Volume 2, Number 21

October 17, 2003

A Publication of the Internet Scout Project
Computer Sciences Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison




Topic In Depth

Research [pdf]

Genome Biology "serves the biological research community as an international forum, both in print and on the Web, for the dissemination, discussion and critical review of information about all areas of biology informed by genomic research." While a paid subscription is required to access all features on the Genome Biology Web site, non-subscribers will find a number of open-access resources as well. Offerings include research articles, conference reports, software downloads, lab protocols, and much more. This frequently updated and ever-evolving Web site will also publish and maintain databases at some point; users are encouraged to submit comments and suggestions. [RS]

NIAID Division of AIDS: HIV/OI Therapeutics Database

This Web site comes from the AIDS division of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and contains a set of databases regarding the treatment of AIDS and opportunistic infection. Users have access to six easy-to-search databases for anti-HIV/OI chemical compounds, anti-HIV in-vitro inhibitory data, anti-HIV enzyme inhibition data, HIV/OI-related literature, and more. The user-interface for each database is fairly self-explanatory, although a pop-up help menu is also available. [RS]

The ICE Biological Inventories Databases

The Information Center for the Environment (ICE) is a cooperative effort between scientists at University of California -- Davis and collaborators from over thirty organizations involved in environmental protection." The ICE Biological Inventory Databases contain "documented, taxonomically standardized species inventories of plants and animals reported from the world's protected areas." New to the Scout Report, these online databases have been updated recently to include botanical inventories from protected areas in Costa Rica and South Africa. [RS]

"The most relevant conferences, meetings, courses, symposia, fora and programs are here at your fingertips" thanks to, an online feature from the journal Nature. This "free, fully searchable, multi-disciplinary scientific events database" provides editorial reports on conference events (including archived reports) and a handy search engine for announcements and notices (e.g. conferences, grants, proposals, fellowships, etc). [RS]

BioMedNet: ELSO 2003

The European Life Scientists Organization (ELSO) recently held its annual meeting in Dresden, where "more than 2000 life scientists saw old dogmas overturned -- especially regarding events inside the nucleus." BioMedNet's "top-notch team of professional science writers" was there too, providing detailed and engaging coverage of presentations from the 4-day event. The reports cover new techniques for tracking cellular signals, new findings on the pathology of prions, a new way to look at chromosome structure, and much more. The Web site also includes profiles of conference presenters, as well as links to abstracts from related articles. [RS]

The Global Seabird Conservation Programme

The Global Seabird Conservation Programme, a project of BirdLife International, is focused on the impact of longline fisheries on seabird, albatross, and petrel species in particular. The Programme's Web site offers detailed information about the project, the latest related news, and a database on the interactions of threatened seabirds and longline fisheries. The database provides threatened seabird species accounts, seabird bycatch reports, and more information along these lines. [RS]

World Chelonian Trust

The World Chelonian Trust (WCT) supports field studies, veterinary research, and conservation projects worldwide that promote the conservation of all tortoises and freshwater turtles species. Additionally, WCT provides "information and guidance to individuals and organizations to further the successful maintenance and propagation of captive populations." Much of this information and guidance is made available through the WCT Web site, including an extensive collection of informative Web articles, an excellent photo gallery, genus- and species-specific care sheets, and other useful resources. [RS]

The Cnidaria Home Page [pdf]

The Cnidaria Home Page is maintained by Rob Steele at the University of California --Irvine "for the use and benefit of the worldwide community of researchers studying all aspects of cnidarian biology." The Cnidaria Home Page serves as a centralized Web portal for all things cnidarian, including cnidarian genomics, research history, lab protocols, related newsgroups and newsletters, and much more. Also, the General Information section contains downloadable review articles on cnidarians from Canadian Journal of Zoology.[RS]


Three Curriculum Supplements from the National Institutes of Health

The Brain: Understanding Neurobiology Through the Study of Addiction [pdf, QuickTime, Flash Macromedia Player]
Chemicals, the Environment, and You: Explorations in Science and Human Health [pdf, QuickTime, Flash Macromedia Player]
Open Wide and Trek Inside [pdf, QuickTime, Flash Macromedia Player]

They're finally here! The NIH Office of Science Education has recently launched Web versions of three curriculum supplements from its series of "interactive teaching units that combine cutting-edge research discoveries from the National Institutes of Health with state-of-the-art instructional materials." "The Brain" is intended for grades 9-12; "Chemical, the Environment, and You" for grades 7-8; and "Open Wide and Trek Inside" (focused on oral health) is for 1st and 2nd graders. Each supplement provides detailed, downloadable lesson plans, fantastic multimedia features, teachers' guides with downloadable worksheets, and loads of other excellent resources. [RS]

Exploratorium: Educator Digital Assets [pdf, QuickTime]

The Exploratorium's Digital Assets database contains "digitized museum materials related to interactive exhibits and scientific phenomena, including images, educational activities, and other exhibit-related resources." Educators are invited to download any of the 2,000+ photos, QuickTime movies, pdf files, and other materials in the database free of charge (for classroom use). The physical sciences appear are featured heavily in the collection, but there's plenty of excellent life sciences stuff to go around.

The Online Macromolecular Museum [Chime]

As the creators of the Online Macromolecular Museum (OMM) explain, macromolecules are "scientific objects in much the same sense as fossil bones or dried specimens: they can be archived, studied, and displayed in aesthetically pleasing, educational exhibits." OMM is a valuable resource for visualizing structures involved in cellular processes, providing virtual galleries devoted to catalysis, membrane biology, ribonucleoproteins, DNA/RNA polymerization, and much more. Each gallery contains interactive tutorials, which are fun to explore even if you're not in the mood to actually learn anything. OMM is maintained by David Marcey at California Lutheran University. [RS]

Project Exploration [pdf, QuickTime]

Chicago-based Project Exploration "is the living classroom that involves students and the public in scientific discovery, by connecting kids and families to interactive exhibits, labs, unique science programs and real scientists." Project Exploration focuses on reaching city kids, but every kid (and teachers) should check out this wonderful Web site. Visitors will find tons of activities and features to explore, such as Project Exploration's paleontological expeditions (past and present) and the Mesozoic Garden -- created for the 2003 Chicago Flower and Garden Show. Teachers will also find lesson plans tucked here and there among Project Exploration's dizzying assortment of Web features. [RS]

Lesson: Hazardous Chemical in Your Neighborhood [pdf]

In this PBS NewsHour lesson plan, "students examine the dangers of hazardous chemicals and their effects on human health and look at various cases of pollution in the environment." Students also explore the role of the Environmental Protection Agency in the cleanup of hazardous chemical contamination, and role-play as different stakeholders in the Love Canal disaster. This lesson plan comes courtesy of Abey K. Tharian of Leonia High School in New Jersey. [RS]

High School Environmental Center

The Environmental Protection Agency has recently launched the High School Environmental Center; a Web portal designed "to help students find good environmental information--not just on the EPA's Web site, but on other reliable sites as well." The Web site provides carefully selected links relating to air quality issues, water resources, waste and recycling, conservation, and more. Students will also find resources on how to get involved in environmental issues -- everything from community service projects to pursuing an environmental career. [RS]

Careers in Science: Women in Research

The National Institutes of Health, Office of Science Education presents Careers in Science: Women in Research. This Web site and poster series was created to "inspire young women (and men) to consider the varied and exciting world of research when they set out to find a fulfilling career." The well-designed Web site features nine women working in neuroscience, heart disease, and cancer research. The corresponding posters are available free of charge to educators in the U.S. [RS]

Daily Lesson Plan: Redefining Addiction

The New York Times Learning Network offers a lesson plan to complement a recent article on the biology of drug addiction. The lesson plan, designed for grades 6-12, helps students "learn about how addiction can have both physiological and behavioral effects." Students then apply what they learn in developing a training session for counselors working with drug-addicted teenagers. Discussion questions, vocabulary, Web links, and extension activity ideas are all included. [RS]


Brain Briefings: Sugar Addiction [pdf]

This Web site contains the October 2003 issue of Brain Briefings; a series of "two-page newsletters explaining how basic neuroscience discoveries lead to clinical applications." Brain Briefings comes from the Society for Neuroscience, is written for a lay audience, and includes excellent images and diagrams. The current newsletter features new research on sugar addiction, which may actually share some of the same neurological characteristics as drug addiction. Readers should be sure to check out the back issues of Brain Briefings as well. [RS]

Texas Imported Fire Ant Research and Management Plan [pdf, QuickTime, Real One Player, Windows Media Player]

The Department of Entomology at Texas A&M University provides this informative Web site focused on the invasive imported fire ant. Visitors will find all the latest in fire ant research and management, as well as an introduction to fire ant natural history and environmental impact. Materials include multimedia presentations, downloadable publications and factsheets, and lots of related links. Visitors can also check out an audio clip of fire ant stridulations -- a weird little sound the ants make rubbing thorax against abdomen. [RS] Mammal Guide

With's new Mammal Guide, readers can "get a detailed look at the mating, survival skills and recreational habits of mammals." The guide covers mammalian biology and natural history, mammal-watching tips, geographical distribution, and more. Easy-to-use drop down menus lead to pages and pages of information, although photos and images are surprisingly absent. Nonetheless, the Mammal Guide is, on the whole, an excellent information resource. [RS]

Biodiversity and Conservation: The Web of Life [Macromedia Flash Player]

Chicago's Field Museum has dubbed the 2003-2004 school year as "The Year of Biodiversity and Conservation," and invites everyone to join in "exploring, celebrating, and protecting our planet's amazing web of life." Visitors can start the exploring, celebrating, and protecting right here in the well-designed and informative Web site created for the program. Biodiversity basics, conservation issues and efforts, free downloadable lesson plans, and other resources are all on hand. The site also contains an interactive map featuring Field Museum researchers studying biodiversity around the world. [RS]

The Discovery and Early Development of Insulin

This Web site "documents the initial period of the discovery and development of insulin, 1920-1925, by presenting over seven thousand page images reproducing original documents ranging from laboratory notebooks and charts, correspondence, writings, and published papers to photographs, awards" and much more. "The Discovery of Insulin" part of the University of Toronto's digital library collections should interest casual browsers as well as those in the market for primary research sources. Selected Highlights is a good place to start, and the interactive timeline (illustrated with original documents and photos) is even better. [RS]

The Incredible Glowing Algae

As NASA's Earth Observatory Web site describes: "Each year, the North Atlantic Ocean announces springtime by producing 'blooms' large enough to be seen from space." While scientists have had satellite images of these phytoplankton blooms for years, researchers can now detect biofluorescence from these microscopic organisms, with important implications for monitoring the environment. The Web site presents some of these incredible images, along with an interesting essay on the topic (which includes a handy hypertext glossary). [RS]

The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International

This is the homepage of The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (DFGFI), a nonprofit organization "dedicated to the conservation of gorillas and their habitats in Africa through anti-poaching, regular monitoring, research, education and support of local communities." Web visitors will find the latest DFGFI news and project information, as well as gorilla basics, kid's activities, and lots of references (popular literature, scientific papers, and kid-friendly titles). [RS]

MedTech Exhibit: Beyond the Cutting Edge

This Web site is the online companion to an exhibit at the Current Science & Technology Center of Boston's Museum of Science. "MedTech Exhibit: Beyond the Cutting Edge" (pun intended?) offers a look at some of the advanced medical technologies currently on display at the Center. The site includes photos and informative descriptions of amazing inventions like the first fully implantable artificial heart and a wireless miniature camera that's swallowed like a pill. The Web site provides little more than a cursory overview of the exhibit, but it's definitely worth a quick look. [RS]

Topic In Depth

Tea: Health Benefits

1. CBC News: Experts Say Tea Combats a Variety of Conditions
2. Brewing up the Latest Tea Research
3. Tuft E-News: Drink to Your Health
4. Scientific American: Tea Cream Could Combat Skin Cancer
5. Scientific American: Tea Aids Oral Health
6. BBC News: Green Tea "Can Block Cancer"
7. News in Science: Antioxidants Save Brain Cells from Alcohol Damage
8. Space Station Science Picture of the Day: High Tea

With a list of health benefits that seems to grow longer by the day, tea may be the closest thing we have to the Elixir of Life in a cup. The following Web sites cover some of the latest research on the health benefits of tea, starting with a short article from the Canadian Broadcasting Company about the antioxidants found in tea (1). The second Web site is an article from the USDA's Agricultural Research Service magazine, offering a summary of tea-related research projects at the agency ((2). Findings so far indicate tea helps burn more calories, lower blood cholesterol, and enhance insulin activity. Likewise, nutrition researchers as Tufts University have found that green tea may help protect against heart disease and cancer (3). The next two Web sites contain recent articles from, the first relating how a cream made from tea could help fight skin cancer (4), the second about how tea can help fight bad breath (5). While we've known for some time that tea contains antioxidants, scientists have recently discovered other chemicals in tea that shut down a molecule that plays a key role in the development of cancer. The BBC News Web site has the story (6). Back to antioxidants, the next Web site contains an article from the Australian Broadcasting Web site that describes how antioxidants may help protect brain cells from alcohol damage (7). And just for fun, check out how astronauts get their daily dose of tea in the last Web site, courtesy of Science@NASA (8).

Below are the copyright statements to be included when reproducing annotations from The NSDL Scout Report for the Life Sciences.

The single phrase below is the copyright notice to be used when reproducing any portion of this report, in any format:

From The NSDL Scout Report for Life Sciences, Copyright Internet Scout Project 1994-2003.

The paragraph below is the copyright notice to be used when reproducing the entire report, in any format:

Copyright Susan Calcari and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, 1994-2003. The Internet Scout Project (, located in the Computer Sciences Department of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, provides information about the Internet to the U.S. research and education community under a grant from the National Science Foundation, number NCR-9712163. The Government has certain rights in this material. Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of the entire Scout Report provided this paragraph, including the copyright notice, are preserved on all copies.

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, or the National Science Foundation.

Internet Scout Project Team
Rachel Sohmer Editor
John Morgan Managing Editor
Rachael Bower Co-Director
Edward Almasy Co-Director
Max Grinnell Contributor
Cavin Leske Contributor
Debra Shapiro Contributor
Rachel Enright Contributor
David Sleasman Internet Cataloger
Todd Scudiere Assistant Internet Cataloger
Barry Wiegan Software Engineer
Justin Rush Technical Specialist
Michael Grossheim Technical Specialist
Andy Yaco-Mink Website Designer
David Mayer Website Designer

For information on additional contributors, see the Internet Scout Project staff page.