January 30, 2001
U.S. Department of Energy Recognizes Brookhaven Lab With Energy 100 Awards for Scientific Contributions to Society
UPTON, NY - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has recognized Brookhaven National Laboratory with three Energy 100 Awards for scientific and technological achievements it has produced during the department's 23-year history, from 1977-2000. The awards recognize outstanding work by scientists in DOE laboratories that have contributed to society by helping consumers save money and improve their quality of life.

The three areas of Brookhaven research that were recognized are:

  • Studies of drug addiction and drug action using an imaging technique called positron emission tomography (PET)
  • Invention of the Flame Quality Indicator, a device that measures flame brightness in oil burners
  • Lyme disease prevention and diagnosis.

Using PET scans, Brookhaven neuroanatomist Stephen Dewey and his collaborators showed how several compounds used to treat epilepsy, including gamma vinyl-GABA, or GVG, blocked the biochemical and behavioral effects of cocaine, nicotine, heroin, alcohol and methamphetamine in the brains of primates. In order to show whether these compounds exhibit the same effect in humans, clinical trials will have to be conducted. This unique therapeutic strategy recently was awarded a U.S. patent and may result in a new approach for the treatment of addiction.

Brookhaven engineer Thomas Butcher spearheaded the invention of the Flame Quality Indicator, a device that is designed to alert the homeowner when oil-burner service is required weeks before the burner's primary control would normally shut down the system due to severe flame-quality problems. Thus, problems can be corrected before they escalate and before the heat or hot-water supply is disrupted. Currently, Honeywell Corporation and Insight Technologies are performing a 100-unit field study of an improved version of the DOE-patented device that was originally developed at Brookhaven about a decade ago.

Lyme disease results from the inoculation of the bacterium Borella burgdorferi into the skin by the bite of a deer tick. Brookhaven researcher John Dunn and collaborators have pinpointed the protective region of the bacterium's surface protein, which is being engineered to make a more effective second-generation vaccine. In addition, Brookhaven research on other Lyme disease proteins has resulted in the development of a rapid, highly accurate diagnostic test for Lyme disease. This test was recently granted FDA approval.

A panel composed of members of the American public including representatives of the nonprofit community, science and engineering experts, labor leaders and academia selected the awardees. To see the complete list of 100 discoveries and innovations that won Energy 100 Awards, check the DOE web site at http://www.ma.doe.gov/energy100/list.html .

The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory creates and operates major facilities available to university, industrial and government personnel for basic and applied research in physical, biomedical and environmental sciences, and in selected energy technologies. The Laboratory is operated by Brookhaven Science Associates, a not-for-profit research management company, under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy.

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