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Letter from the editor | 84

Brazilian science on the screen

Starting this month, Pesquisa FAPESP brings a new section, SciELO News, which expands the already abundant information offered to the readers of the magazine, firsthand, about scientific research carried out in Brazil. Unpublished news linked to the scientific production of several countries from Latin America and of Spain will be rounding off the menu for this section. It starts off a lightweight, with two pages, and it may be expanded later on. For those who do not know it yet, SciELO – Scientific Electronic Library Online – is one of the most important initiatives yet taken in Brazil to make scientific articles by Brazilian researchers accessible to their peers from the entire world – and hence quotable, present in international scientific literature, with a tendency to present more significant factors of impact.

The SciELO database project was started in 1997, thanks to a partnership between FAPESP and the Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information (Bireme), an institution connected with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). In 2002, the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) also began to support it. In the beginning, only ten scientific periodicals were on SciELO. Today, there are 93 titles, chosen from among the almost 500 Brazilian scientific magazines. And the SciELO model, including its methodology, has revealed itself as being so good that it has started to be exported to other countries. Now in operation on the SciELO network, there are websites from Chile and Cuba, and a thematic website on public health, with periodicals from Brazil, Mexico and Spain, plus those from PAHO and the WHO. And under development are the SciELOs of Spain, Venezuela and Costa Rica. In total, in January 2003, the network was making available 169 titles. The respectable volume of new scientific information that, every month, will be at the disposal of Pesquisa FAPESP can well be imagined. That is where we will be prospecting novelties that help to consummate the magazine’s editorial purpose: to show that knowledge of a high level is produced in this country, in science and technology – knowledge that is essential for its social and economic development and which, for this very reason, calls for policies that provide a guarantee and an impulse for its production. Readers who wish to know more about this sample of material that will be available in the library simultaneously with its publication in Pesquisa FAPESP, or who have an interest in SciELO’s stock of information, may access it not only through the electronic address mentioned above, but also through the websites of our magazine, which, by the way, will be publishing new highlights every week, and of FAPESP.

After all this information on a single theme, it is here worth highlighting the cover story, on the discovery, by a group of researchers from USP in Ribeirão Preto, of the role played by two neurotransmitters – glutamate and nitric oxide – in panic disorder. Let it be said, in passing, that they are also involved with another two psychic disorders: anxiety and depression. Starting on page 30, assistant editor Ricardo Zorzetto reports on how the researchers arrived at this result, which opens up new prospects for developing more efficient drugs for treating the problem. Anyhow, listening to other specialists, he shows that there is plenty of ground to be covered, in a necessarily multidisciplinary approach, for an effective control over panic disorder, one of the gloomiest psychiatric conditions usually associated with contemporary life. If the association has any real basis, or if panic disorder – which, the estimate goes, afflicts 1.6% of the Brazilians – is as old as mankind, and merely came to be better characterized and diagnosed some 20 years ago, is still not known. Be that as it may, this new information on a difficult disorder is stimulating. Highly recommendable reading.