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Summer 2006 Vol. 6 No. 2



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BRIEF TAKES


Launch of new Iraqi Virtual Science Library at a ceremony held May 3, 2006, at the National Academies, photo by Vanee Vines New Digital Library Aids
Iraqi Scholars


This spring U.S. government officials and representatives from the scientific community launched the Iraqi Virtual Science Library, providing Iraqi scholars with access to cutting-edge scientific information to foster improvements in the nation's higher education system and research enterprise.

Iraq's ambassador to the United States praised the project at a ceremony at the National Academies. "This provides an important step toward rebuilding our scientific community," said Samir Shakir Mahmud Al-Sumaydi.

A network of Iraqi universities and an Iraqi research institution will eventually make the Internet-based library available to nearly 80 percent of Iraq's scientists, engineers, and university students, organizers said. The project started as a partnership among the U.S. departments of Defense and State and the fellowships program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The two departments asked the National Academies to negotiate with publishers of high-quality scientific and technical literature for reduced-price access to their materials. With a grant of about $170,000, the Academies assembled a library collection that now has the complete text of more than 17,400 scientific journal titles. Access to major research databases has also been arranged. Sun Microsystems Inc. will provide computer servers, information technology training for Iraqi partners, and a special software package that will make it possible to eventually transfer the digital library from its U.S. government host server to one in Iraq. The U.S. Civilian Research & Development Foundation will help maintain the project, transferring it entirely to Iraqi ownership after the first two years of operation.

The Academies acquired one-year licenses for most of the titles in the library, which alone are valued at more than $11 million on the open market; publishers have agreed to maintain the partnership thereafter if additional funds are available. Details about the Iraqi Virtual Science Library are available online at <https://ivsl.org>. -- Vanee Vines


In Memoriam: Nicholas R. Cozzarelli (1938-2006)

Photo courtesy University of California, BerkeleyWhen Nicholas R. Cozzarelli became editor in chief of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) in 1995, he inherited a journal that in many ways had remained unchanged since its inception in 1914. Yet in just over a decade, he had -- through a combination of visionary leadership and sheer force of will -- transformed PNAS and raised it to a higher level. That transformation can be seen throughout the journal, from cover to last page. Since 1995, PNAS has experienced a marked rise in the number of submissions and published papers, an improvement in the quality and variety of published material, and the introduction of an innovative hybrid open access model. And through it all, Cozzarelli orchestrated these changes by simply being himself. "In his role of editor in chief of PNAS, Nick exhibited the same boundless energy, enthusiasm, dedication, and uncompromising standards that characterized his own science," said Jack Halpern, associate editor of PNAS and Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at the University of Chicago.

Cozzarelli dedicated his career to the passionate pursuit of excellence, whether in research, teaching, or service to the scientific community. He spent 24 years as a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, where he contributed immensely to the understanding of how proteins alter the topology of DNA. He served as chairman of the molecular biology department from 1986 until 1989, director of the Virus Laboratory from 1986 to 1990, and director of the mathematics and molecular biology program from 1988 to 1996. Cozzarelli was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1989, received the CIBA-Geigy/Drew Award in Biomedical Research in 1990, became a fellow of AAAS in 1999, and became a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000.

Cozzarelli's career was cut short when he died on March 19, 2006, at the age of 67, from complications related to treatment for Burkitt's lymphoma. His death is a loss for both the research and publishing communities, but he has left a legacy of uncompromising scientific achievement, advancement toward interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary work, and a revitalized journal positioned to meet the challenges of the 21st century.   -- Regina Nuzzo & Nick Zagorski



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Copyright 2006 by the National Academy of Sciences