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NLM Opens 'AIDS Ephemera' Exhibit

Out of the tragedy of the AIDS epidemic came a vibrant culture of ephemeral art — buttons, posters, cards, comic books and the like — designed to educate, motivate and inspire. Now, NLM has mounted an "AIDS Ephemera" exhibition, occupying the glass cases near the front entrance of Bldg. 38, the National Library of Medicine. It continues through May 27, 2003.

Produced by government health departments as well as private organizations, the visual culture of AIDS promoted knowledge of symptoms as well as means of prevention. To convey the public health message as broadly as possible, the material appeared in Spanish and French, as well as English. To grab attention, artists played with stereotypes of some of the disease's most affected subcultures — gay men in particular.

This playful work by Keith Haring displays his trademark energy and street art style. Haring himself died of AIDS on Feb. 16, 1990.

Some of the materials are playful or humorous, while others stress values such as responsibility and compassion.

The exhibit can be viewed during the library's regular business hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday; and 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.

NLM History of Medicine Division staffers Dr. Paul Theerman and Jan Lazarus curated the exhibit, assisted on copyright issues by Belle Waring. Troy Hill from NLM's Audiovisual Program Development Branch designed the exhibit.

Faulty Gene Key to Understanding DM

After much mystery, researchers funded by NIAMS have succeeded in linking the gene defect in myotonic dystrophy (DM) to its biological malfunction. Their findings emphasize how misreading of a gene can lead to improper conduction of electrical impulses in skeletal muscle.

Two different studies were completed. Dr. Thomas A. Cooper and his team of scientists at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas examined tissue samples from skeletal muscle in patients with myotonic dystrophy. The results revealed that extra genetic material caused by the defect in the DNA sequence affects the chloride channels that control muscle relaxation.

In New York, at the University of Rochester, Dr. Charles A. Thornton and his colleagues measured electrochemical muscle impulses in a mouse model of the disease. The results indicated that the genetic defect affects the conductance of electrical signals, resulting in delayed muscle control. People with DM have the normal gene with additional information that interferes with the translation of proteins. While further study still needs to be done, these findings are a key step in understanding the causes of muscular dystrophies.

Myotonic dystrophy belongs to a group of genetic diseases called muscular dystrophies characterized by progressive weakness and degeneration of the skeletal or voluntary muscles that control movement. Tens of thousands of people in the United States are affected. An early sign of DM is delayed skeletal muscle relaxation following voluntary contraction.

Learn About Next Steps for CRIS, Dec. 18

The next steps for NIH's Clinical Research Information System (CRIS) will be discussed by Dr. Stephen Rosenfeld, CRIS project manager and chief of the Clinical Center's department of clinical research informatics, during CC Grand Rounds on Wednesday, Dec. 18 at noon in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10. CRIS is a $60 million project that will link and support patient care, research and management at the CC and at the future Clinical Research Center. A contract to build the largest component of CRIS was awarded recently to Eclipsys Corp., which will develop and implement CRIS components that comprise patient-care aspects of clinical research. Included in this core system is the electronic medical record, which houses such information as lab results, pharmacy orders and multidisciplinary care documentation. More information about CRIS can be found online at

FAES Announces Spring Courses

The FAES Graduate School at NIH announces the schedule of courses for the spring semester. The evening classes sponsored by the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences will be given on the NIH campus.

Courses are offered in biochemistry, biology, biotechnology (daytime courses), chemistry, immunology, languages, medicine, microbiology, pharmacology, statistics, toxicology, administration and courses of general interest.

It is often possible to transfer credits earned to other institutions for degree work, and many courses are approved for category 1 credit toward the AMA Physician's Recognition Award.

Classes will begin Jan. 27; mail registration ends Dec. 27 and walk-in registration will be held Jan. 8-14. Tuition is $100 per credit hour, and courses may be taken for credit or audit. Courses that qualify for institute support as training should be cleared with supervisors and administrative officers as soon as possible. Both the vendor's copy of the training form and the FAES registration form must be submitted at the time of registration. Note that FAES cannot access training forms entered in the NIHTS system; a signed hard copy (vendors' copy of SF 182 form) is needed in order to process registrations for classes.

Schedules are available in the graduate school office in Bldg. 60, Suite 230, the foundation bookstore in Bldg. 10, Rm. B1L101, and the business office in Bldg. 10, Rm. B1C18. To have a schedule sent, call 496-7976 or visit org.

New Roles Found for Cytokines

Type 1 interferons, among the first of many cell communication mediators now called cytokines, were discovered some 50 years ago. Scientists at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and Brown University have found a new way that they help the body fight infection and regulate immune responses.

Dr. John O'Shea of NIAMS' Molecular Immunology and Inflammation Branch, along with his NIAMS and Brown University colleagues, have found that the Type 1 interferons IFN-a and IFN-ß — already well-known for their direct therapeutic effects against virus infections — also stimulate production of the infection-fighting type 2 interferon, IFN-g. To accomplish this, say the investigators, IFN-a and IFN-ß activate an intermediary signaling protein called STAT4, which binds the IFN-g proximal promoter and is needed to produce the Type 2 interferon. The work, done in a mouse model of viral infection, shows that Type 1 IFN and STAT4 are critical for IFN-g production, which is critical for host response against pathogens.

This insight into a new pathway for cytokine regulation through cellular signaling might eventually help scientists manipulate cytokine activity to therapeutic advantage.

"Even though the Type 1 interferons have been the most widely used cytokines clinically, there has been much about them that we haven't understood," said O'Shea. "We're excited about the new trick that these 'old dog' cytokines have taught us."

NLM Visitors Center Closed For Repair

The NLM Visitors Center closed for remodeling on Dec. 2. The work is expected to end no later than Mar. 7, 2003. The new and improved Visitors Center will be larger and will feature new interactive displays highlighting NLM programs and services. Throughout the construction, the library will continue to offer abbreviated tours, originating in the first floor lobby of Bldg. 38A, the Lister Hill Center, weekdays (except federal holidays) at 1:30 p.m. The center will also try to accommodate special tour groups. For more information, contact Melanie Modlin at 496-7771 or Note that there will be no 1:30 tours of the library Dec. 24 through Jan. 1, 2003.

Genetic Differences Found in Lupus Families

After 10 years of collecting genetic information on families with the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus), researchers funded by NIAMS have found different genetic regions linked to lupus in African Americans and European Americans. This genetic linkage study may one day help to explain why more African Americans die of lupus and develop more serious complications such as nephritis (kidney failure) compared with people of European descent.

After analyzing the DNA from more than 250 African American and European American pedigrees, Dr. John Harley and his colleagues at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation identified a region of chromosome 1 (1q21-22 near FcyRIIA) associated with the development of lupus in African American families. They also identified two regions of chromosome 11 associated with lupus in subsets of the African American families. In European American families, they found a genetic linkage near the top of chromosome 4 (at 4p16-15) that contributes to lupus. These results suggest that the genetic origins of lupus may differ in African Americans and European Americans.

Lupus, a rheumatic disease that mainly affects women of child-bearing age, can lead to severe organ damage, and is three times more common in African American women than in Caucasian women. In the United States, as many as one in every 250 African American women develop lupus. By identifying the specific genes that may predispose African Americans to developing lupus, researchers move a step closer to understanding and better treating this puzzling and difficult disease in the African American population.

Lecture on Prolactin, Breast Cancer

The women's health special interest group will present a talk by NCI's Dr. Barbara Vonderhaar on Friday, Dec. 20 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Wilson Hall, Bldg. 1. Her topic is "Prolactin in Breast Development and Cancer." Vonderhaar is acting chief, Mammary Biology and Tumorigenesis Laboratory and chair, breast cancer faculty, Center for Cancer Research. There will be refreshments and discussion after the lecture.

Wednesday Afternoon Lectures

The Wednesday Afternoon Lecture series — held on its namesake day at 3 p.m. in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10 — features Dr. Nadia A. Rosenthal on Dec. 18, giving the annual George Khoury Lecture on "Prometheus' Vulture and the Promise of Stem Cells" (see story). This is the last WALS lecture of the fall season.

The series resumes on Jan. 8, 2003, with a talk by recent Lasker Award winner Dr. Randy W. Schek-man, professor, department of molecular and cell biology and HHMI investigator, University of California, Berkeley. He will discuss, "Molecular Mechanisms of Protein Sorting in the Secretory Pathway."

For more information or for reasonable accommodation, call Hilda Madine, 594-5595.

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