News Release

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

NIH releases The Rocket Boys of NIH cartoon for children

A new children's cartoon tells the inspiring and true story of how two kids were launched into a scientific adventure in 1957 after receiving a "grant" from the National Institutes of Health to build a rocket ship.

This video is part of NIH's outreach efforts to engage young people in science and show them the dynamic way NIH advances medical research and health.

The Rocket Boys of NIH cartoon is now available to broadcasters in English and Spanish and to webmasters and the public on YouTube. This short animation also will be shown in the NIH pavilion at the U.S.A. Science & Engineering Festival on the Mall in Washington, D.C., Oct. 23-24.

"It's exciting to see this story take off," said Dr. Toni Scarpa, director of the NIH Center for Scientific Review, which produced the cartoon. "Great things can happen when we give kids a jump start in science."

"The NIH reviewers were true visionaries when they dug into their pockets for $10 to fund Terence Boylan and Bruce Cook's rocket research," said Dr. Scarpa. "In the spirit of NIH peer review, they recognized a new idea from promising young scientists and boldly invested in the future."

Today, an application for NIH space research is not as revolutionary as it was in early 1957 before the Russians launched Sputnik. NIH now funds grants to scientists who will conduct medical studies with astronauts in the International Space Station:

Former Rocket Boy Terence Boylan will be in the NIH pavilion on the Washington Mall at the USA Science & Engineering Festival on Sunday, Oct. 24, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. He will autograph free copies of the companion children's book: The Rocket Boys of NIH, which was released in March 2009 (

Boylan is a musician who raises funds for scientific research and young scientists. He also is the chairman of the board of trustees for the Mount Desert Biological Laboratory in Salisbury Cove, Maine.

Go to CSR’s website to view the NIH Rocket Boys cartoon, book, photos and other videos:

To schedule an interview or receive the cartoon in high-definition video, contact the CSR Office of Communications at 301-435-1111 or

The Center for Scientific Review organizes the peer review groups that evaluate the majority of grant applications submitted to the National Institutes of Health. CSR recruits about 16,000 outside scientific experts each year for its review groups. CSR also receives all NIH and many Public Health Service grant applications—over 80,000 a year—and assigns them to the appropriate NIH Institutes and Centers and PHS agencies. CSR’s primary goal is to see that NIH applications receive fair, independent, expert, and timely reviews that are free from inappropriate influences so NIH can fund the most promising research. For more information, visit

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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