Headlines @ U.Va.
STUDY MAY OFFER NEW HOPE FOR ADDICTS
In a new study by Bankole Johnson, chairman of the Psychiatric Medicine Department, findings revealed that 17 percent of hard-core drinkers stayed dry for at least a month while taking the drug topiramate, known commercially as Topamax. An additional 20 percent cut back from heavy consumption to more normal levels. The drug does have side effects — most commonly mental fuzziness, but patients tend to stick with it — Johnson said. It sounds like magic, but during the past decade scientists have come to better understand how the addicted brain works. They are using that knowledge to study several existing drugs as potential treatments for the millions enslaved by their cravings. For years, epileptic patients reported that topiramate helped them fight food cravings and lose weight. Now, in addition to helping alcoholics, the drug shows promise in early studies with binge eaters, smokers and even gamblers. (Newsweek, June 13)
NASA LANGLEY RESEARCH CENTER OFFICIALLY OPENS
On June 16, the nonprofit NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton celebrated its opening with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting — just two years late. The institute began operating two years ago out of a smaller building nearby. Nearly 50 graduate students, part-time and full-time, attend classes there, and more than 100 courses are offered by member universities and in-house professors. The institute was created by Langley Research Center in Hampton to educate its future work force, expand on its research and commercialize its technologies. It offers graduate-level courses and degrees through its member universities: Hampton University, U.Va., Virginia Tech, Old Dominion University, the College of William & Mary, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina State University, Georgia Tech and the University of Maryland. Located less than a mile from NASA Langley Research Center, the institute’s students and researchers work closely with counterparts at Langley. They also work on projects for federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Defense, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, June 20)
SAVING THE PAST FOR THE FUTURE
If all goes well, sometime next spring, from the comfort of your nearest Internet connection, you’ll be able to see a Richmond Dispatch newspaper from the Civil War era with clarity. The Richmond Dispatch (which published under various nameplates including the Daily Dispatch), had 18,000 subscribers when the war broke out, a circulation outranked in the South only by the largest New Orleans dailies. A $478,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, a federal agency, has financed a two-year effort to build a repository of digital copies of newspapers from the Civil War period and publish them on the Internet, and brought together the University of Richmond, the Virginia Center for Digital History at the University of Virginia, and Tufts University, which also has had extensive experience digitizing text materials. Soon schoolchildren should be able to read the newspaper online to find out what the city was like during the war. And historians should be able to slice and dice through multiple topics to perhaps measure the mood of the Confederate capital as the war advanced. (Richmond Times-
Dispatch, June 20)