In 1957, a 9-year-old named Terence Boylan sent a letter to the
National Institutes of Health asking for a grant of $10 to build
a rocket ship. The unusual request made its way to the outside
experts who served on the NIH national health advisory council.
Though they could not recommend government funding, they decided
to make personal investments in the future, passing the hat to
send Terence the money he needed for his research.
Many years later, after finding and interviewing Boylan, the Center
for Scientific Review has brought his story to life: "Shining Lady
in the Sky: How the Rocket Boys of Buffalo Were Launched by a Government
Administrator and Committee at the National Institutes of Health" is
viewable online at http://www.csr.nih.gov/history.
"The story says a lot about the drive and dedication of researchers — both
young and old," says Don Luckett, CSR communications director and
author of the story. "Research rarely advances without the dogged
passion and imagination of individuals who want to do something
no one has done before."
The story also says a lot about the unsung heroes who have helped
NIH advance medical research through the years, including reviewers
and staff who have served with little fanfare. Among these individuals
is the late Dr. Ernest Allen, one of the forefathers of the NIH
grants program, who took the time to help the Rocket Boys of Buffalo.
Though it was a small gesture, the little "grant" to Boylan continues
to pay off in unexpected ways like many of the official grants
NIH has awarded over the years.