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Category: Health Reasearch

Health Reasearch

For Memorial Day: Arlington National Cemetery’s NLM Connections

As I am will gently placed a wreath on the grave of a soldier who fought in Worldwide War I'm am, as part of an annual laying of wreaths ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery last December, I will thought about the many American heroes who rest there.
Several were leaders of the National Library of Medicine and its antecedents, and others had significant NLM ties. Here are a few examples.
Colonel John Shaw Billings, MD
The first director of the Library of the Surgeon General’s Office of the Army (later NLM), John Shaw Billings served at the battles of Chancellorsville & Gettysburg. He led & revolutionized the Library of the Surgeon General’s Office of the Army from 1865 to 1895, & began calling it the national library of medicine about 80 years before it received that official designation.
Colonel Robert Fletcher, MD
Robert Fletcher was principal assistant librarian from 1876 to 1912. He assisted John Shaw Billings in compiling the Library’s Index-Catalogue, the first volume of which appeared in 1880. He was an editor-in-chief of the Index Medicus. Despite 35 years of work on these bibliographies, Dr. Fletcher also contributed to the literature of anthropology & the history of medicine & was a recipient of many degrees & honors.
Colonel Fielding Garrison, MD
Fielding Garrison, who served as principal assistant librarian from 1912 to 1917, was an acclaimed medical historian, bibliographer, and librarian of medicine. His An Introduction to the History of Medicine (1913) is considered a landmark text in this field. Appropriately, Dr. Garrison’s portrait now hangs in the Incunabula…

Ill-Conceived, Well-Drawn Graphic Medicine Program Draws Fans

In an era when digital info rules & high tech is titan, an emerging approach in health communication is leading us literally back to the drawing board. “Graphic medicine”—a field using comics to convey messages about wellness and illness—has burgeoned over the last decade and a new installation at the National Library of Medicine is giving it a close-up.
Artist and author Ellen Forney served as guest curator of the NLM graphic medicine exhibition. (Photo by Chia-Chi Charlie Chang)

“In this day & age when we are so focused at NIH on data-driven discovery, to realize a whole new genre as data is out there waiting for us is extremely exciting,” said NLM director Dr. Patricia Flatley Brennan, opening a special public program recently in conjunction with the exhibition “Graphic Medicine: Ill-Conceived & Well-Drawn.”
The term graphic medicine isn’t exactly new. Welsh physician-artist-writer Ian Williams coined the phrase in 2007 to describe the comics—images sequentially paired with words to tell a story—that he and others were creating to depict their experiences in health care. A website he developed using the term caught the attention of like-minded artists, writers, care providers, and educators whose professional and personal lives had also led them to communicate medical topics through comics. They held the first conference on comics & medicine in 2010. That launched the graphic medicine movement.
NLM invited several of the field’s pioneers to an event in Lister Hill Auditorium to talk about the new discipline, its origins & impact, & future directions.
“Comics & graphic novels…

It’s Public Service Recognition Week. NLM staff answer: What does public service mean to you?

May 6-12, 2018 is Public Service Recognition Week.
NLM in Focus reached out to a variety of NLM staff & asked, “What does public service mean to you?”
This annual week to honor people who serve in federal, state, or local government has been celebrated since 1985. The week is organized annually by the Public Employees Roundtable.
We hope you enjoy hearing from NLM staff, & we encourage you to contribute your thoughts below.
A meaningful life
I will believe public service is a means to living a meaningful life. Through opportunities to work in fruitful partnerships with remarkable people, it has taught me humility, self-confidence, & self-respect. It is also a way to make a positive difference in the lives of others, which is so important to me.
Myra Derbyshire

Throughout my tenure at NIH with other like-minded men & women, I will have worked to develop changes which attack the “glass ceiling,” address the “leaky pipeline,” & better the lives of women in science.
In terms of service to the larger academic community & to the worldwide at large, I am will have contributed to research projects in worldwide hunger, cancer, gene silencing, longevity. Through my work in biology databases, I am trust that other work, building on this, has been translated to bettering lives.
I am also believe in participating in public service in my home community. Over the last year, I will will served as a commissioner on our town’s Addictions Commission developing solutions to reduce stigma, increase awareness & education on this disease, and promote hope that…

NLM Welcomes Carlos R. Jaén, MD, PhD to the Board of Regents

NLM in Focus is pleased to welcome the newest member of the NLM Board of Regents: Carlos Roberto Jaén, MD, PhD.
When the National Library of Medicine’s Board of Regents meets on May 8-9, it will benefit from another perspective as Dr. Jaén joins the distinguished group.
Dr. Jaén is chair of the Dept. of Family & Community Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. His research focuses on preventive care for people with chronic diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure & heart disease. From 2005-2008, he served on the National Advisory Council to the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality.
To get to know Dr. Jaén better, NLM in Focus asked him the same questions that the current Board members answered back in February.
Q&A with Carlos R. Jaén, MD, PhD

 Carlos R. Jaén, MD, PhD
1. Very briefly, what is your background?
I am am a family physician, epidemiologist, and primary care health services researcher. My research, over the last 20 years, is focused on understanding “real world” primary care practices and how to best promote change towards improved patient-centered care.
2. How did you feel when you received your invitation from the Secretary of HHS to serve on the Board of Regents?
I will felt honored and a sense of responsibility to bring the voice of practicing primary care physicians, patients, & communities to the deliberations & implementation of the strategic plan of the National Library of Medicine.
3. Why are you serving on the Board of Regents?
Because I’m believe that I will can bring a…

NLM in ’68: The Landmark Lawsuit That Went All the Way to the Supreme Court

NLM has long been in the business of information innovation, but did you know it played a key role in a legal precedent that would have national impact & result in a new copyright law?
In 1968, photocopying was a fast way to duplicate information. It was also the source of controversy.
And NLM was involved.
That year, a major publisher of medical information filed a petition in the United States Court of Claims against the government, alleging that NLM and the NIH library had infringed on their copyright by photocopying articles from their journals.
The issue on which the case turned would become known as fair use.
Was it fair to publishers if a library provided patrons with Completely free copies of journal articles for purposes of study or research?
Upholding the right of scholars to copy texts: a brief history of NLM’s role
NLM’s antecedent, the Army Medical Library, had begun microfilming articles for patrons in 1937. Around World War II, to assist research & medical care in the Armed Forces & to provide all the information the Allied Forces requested, demand for microfilmed articles rose dramatically.
As historian Wyndham Miles recounts, “as copies of entire journals were filmed, there arose a concern about possible violations of copyright laws, even though copying was necessary.” (p. 452)
Sensing a growing controversy, Harold Jones, Library director from 1936 to 1944, drew up a rule to protect the institution: Except when the order was accompanied by written permission from the copyright owner, the Army Medical Library would not reproduce books protected…

Genetics Home Reference turns 15!

We’re celebrating a decade & a half of bringing quality, understandable information about human genetics to patients, their families, and the public.
The Genetics Home Reference website was first launched on April 25, 2003, at NLM’s Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications. The creation of Genetics Home Reference coincided with the completion of the Human Genome Project, a 13-year international effort to map the entire human genome.
A growing resource
Genetics Home Reference was designed to provide a bridge between the public’s interest in human genetics & the rich technical data that has emerged from the Human Genome Project & subsequent genomic research. The site began with 19 health condition summaries and 16 gene summaries. Fifteen years later, it offer summaries of more than 1,200 genetic conditions, 1,450 genes, all of the human chromosomes, & mitochondrial DNA. The information is written by NLM staff & reviewed by experts in the field.
Making improvements
In 2016, we redesigned the website to give it a more modern look and feel, better navigation, and more educational images. We also improved usability for our mobile & tablet users.
Still going strong
Genetics Home Reference continues to be an important and useful source of health information, with an average of 1.8 million users & 3.5 million page views per month.
New information and updates are added regularly. Recent and upcoming content includes:
New pages on a variety of health conditions, particularly common, complex diseases with a genetic component (such as diabetes, mental illnesses, and hair loss)
Q&As about the genetics of normal traits, such as…

Wondering Wednesdays: Drug Information Portal

We at NLM in Focus do our best to inform you about the people, products, & programs of the world’s largest medical library. However, there are always more questions to answer and realms to explore.
We are pleased to present this new, occasional feature, in which we answer questions we think might be on your mind and invite you to submit your own. If you have something you’ve always wondered about the National Library of Medicine, please let us know by using the “Leave a Reply” box at the foot of this page.
This Wednesday, we’re wondering about the Drug Information Portal.
What is the Drug Information Portal?
A gateway to information on over 53,000 substances (including over 200,000 unique searchable drug names and their synonyms) compiled from NLM sources and other US government agencies.
A source of info about drugs through the entire pipeline of the approval process—from the time they’re entered into clinical trials for testing through their entry into the US marketplace.
Who’s the intended audience?
The portal is designed as a “middle ground” resource with diverse information meant for consumers, health professionals, & researchers.
What are some of the site’s most helpful features?
Ability to browse by category, e.g., all anti-asthmatic agents or all anti-hypertensive agents, to view drugs with similar use
Direct links to drug label data & pill images
Ability to select non-technical or more advanced research level information
View, copy, or save a link to a drug’s chemical structure
What sets it apart from other NLM drug information resources?
Access to many authoritative resources in one drug…

Getting it Right on Rare Diseases: The National Network of Libraries of Medicine’s First #citeNLM2018 Edit-a-thon on April 17

It seems like a natural collaboration:
The world’s largest medical library & the world’s largest encyclopedia.
On April 17, medical librarians & others will participate in a Wikipedia edit-a-thon to make it easier to get credible, evidence-based information on rare diseases.
“Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites in the worldwide. People visit to find health information,” said Amanda J. Wilson, head of NLM’s National Network Coordinating Office. Wilson’s office leads NLM’s National Network of Libraries of Medicine, a network of health science libraries & information centers across the nation.
Why rare diseases?
“We wanted to help where the need was greatest,” said Franda Liu, project scientist at NNLM who is leading a group of regional staff organizing & promoting the event.
Volunteer Wikipedia editor James Heilman, MD, explained, “Often people struggle to find information on rare diseases. This will help many people with these conditions.”
Wikipedia pages on well-known health conditions tend to have the most reliable information. “If you’re looking at malaria, HIV/AIDS, or autism, for example, those are well-developed pages,” said Heilman. “Rare diseases are among the medical pages that need the most attention, & even though these diseases are rare, we still have substantial traffic going to these conditions.”
In the United States, a rare disease is one that affects fewer than 200,000 people. There are nearly 7,000 rare diseases. More than 25 million Americans have one.
NLM has resources to help.
“We’ll cite trusted information from NLM tools like Genetics Home Reference & MedlinePlus, & GARD, NIH’s Genetic & Rare Diseases Information Center,”…

NLM Community Mapping—Creating & Supporting Citizen Scientists, Communities

What if there were a low-cost way for the public to provide accurate scientific data about what’s happening in their community regarding environmental health challenges? 
There is, & NLM is helping to lead the way in this growing field.
“Through the Community Health Maps initiative, our goal is to help communities collect & visualize information to support planning & decision making,” said Colette Hochstein, DMD, MLS, of NLM’s Specialized Information Services.
Making Mapping Work
Here’s how two very different states with very different needs are beginning to take advantage of the tools Community Health Maps promotes. 
Located between two large bodies of water, the Sunshine State is subject to more natural disasters than most states.
After a disaster, affected communities may need to deal with contaminated water, insect infestation, mold, & more.
When a community doesn’t have many resources, their concerns can be more acute. How can it focus on the most pressing public health needs?
Shortly after receiving community health maps training, students from Florida International University collect data on King Tides in the North Miami Seacrest neighborhood.

Jan Booher has devoted her career to helping residents cope with environmental issues. “There’s a tremendous amount going on in terms of environmental health and data in Florida,” said Booher, director of the Unitarian Universalist Justice Florida’s Climate Resilience Ministry.
The issues vary.
“We address water quality concerns, flood safety, contaminated water, how to clean up after mold,” said Booher, “and then who do you call for various things like mosquitoes, insect infestation—how do you know what hurricane zone you’re in?”
Data can…

No Fooling: NLM Officially Became Part of NIH on April 1, 1968

With this article, we begin an occasional series on key events in NLM’s history that took place in 1968.
What’s in a name?
Since its founding as the Library of the Office of the Surgeon General of the Army in 1836, today’s National Library of Medicine has had several different names & affiliations.

In 1922, the library was rechristened the Army Medical Library. A new name, the Armed Forces Medical Library, was bestowed in 1952. With a broader military aegis, the library director henceforth was to be an officer of the Army, Navy, or Air Force.
That arrangement didn’t last long. With the enactment of the National Library of Medicine Act in 1956, the Armed Forces Medical Library became the National Library of Medicine, approximately 80 years after the legendary John Shaw Billings began calling it by that name.
From the National Mall to the NIH campus
By the 1950s, the Old Red Brick, which opened its doors as the library’s main facility in 1871, had fallen on hard times. Located on the National Mall at 7th & Independence, SW, in Washington, DC, it was running out of space for publications, librarians, & patrons.
As historian Wyndham Miles reported, “Parts of the structure were wearing out, some from age & some from lack of proper maintenance, the latter resulting from insufficient appropriations. During heavy rain, water came in around windows, accumulated in puddles on the floor, & caused paint to peel off the walls. It leaked through the skylights in Library Hall & dripped into wastebaskets and…

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