How the 'Rocket Boys of the NIH' Sparked a Commitment to Science and Medical Research

i-644d343e248f5fb9aaba3e9255f890f1-Terence Boylan Photo.jpgEven as a child Terence Boylan was a dreamer with big ideas. Collaborating in 1957 with his friend, nine-year old Terence made plans to build a rocket that could carry a mouse into the sky and bring it back safely. But Terence did not have the money to buy the aluminum they needed so he asked his father (a physician and medical researcher at the University of Buffalo), where he got his research money. Dr. Boylan told him the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to whom the boy then wrote to ask for $10 to build the rocket. The request reached the chief of NIH Grants and although the NIH funds disease research not rockets, he and his Peer Review Panel members were so impressed with the young boy's initiative that they contributed the money to send to him.

The episode earned Terence and his friend Bruce the nickname of "the Rocket Boys of NIH," which is the name of his book and DVD on the life-altering experience that for Terence, sparked an intense interest in research that continues today. He has since become a big supporter of science, science education, and medical investigation. He currently is executive director of the John W. Boylan Foundation for International Medical Research (named for his father), which supports research and international scientist exchange fellowships. He also serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Mount Desert Island Biological Lab, and has supported children's educational programs at the Center for Scientific Review at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

In addition to his reputation as a solid supporter of research, Terence is also known for his accomplishments in the music world. As a young singer-songwriter he received promising reviews from music critics and began traveling across the country giving concerts, including performing with his former college classmates Walter Becker and Donald Fagen (who would later go on to form Steely Dan). After landing recording contracts with major labels (MGM, Verve and Asylum Records) Terence went on to record four widely acclaimed albums and to tour the United States with several other notable acts.

Do you have a childhood experience like Terence's that sparked a life-long interest in science?

Read more about AT&T sponsored Nifty Fifty program speaker Terence Boylan here.

And watch this interview with Terence on 'The Rocket Boys of NIH':


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