News from NLM and FNLM

NLM Announces 2018 History of Medicine Lecture Series

The National Library of Medicine announces its History of Medicine Lecture Series for 2018. Complete details are available from the NLM History of Medicine Division.

Kicking off the series on Monday, January 29, at 11 am Eastern Time on the NIH campus and videocast, will be Stevens Institute of Technology’s Theresa MacPhail, PhD, Assistant Professor Science and Technology Studies, who will speak on The Evolution of Viral Networks: H1N1, Ebola, and Zika. Author of The Viral Network: A Pathography of the H1N1 Influenza Pandemic (Cornell University Press, 2014).

Dr. MacPhail will address the culture of public health, the production of scientific knowledge, networks of expertise, information sharing, and everyday experiences of epidemiologists, microbiologists, biomedical scientists, and medical practitioners. Her lecture is the keynote address of Viral Networks: An Advanced Workshop in Digital Humanities and Medical History, which brings together scholars from various fields of medical history whose innovative research shows promise through the use of methods, tools, and data from the digital humanities. The workshop is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) through a grant to Virginia Tech, and is a collaborative outcome of the NLM’s ongoing partnership with the NEH. Learn more about the workshop, its selected participants, and its significance through its official web site, and this news release from Virginia Tech.

Dr. MacPhail’s lecture will take place in the NIH Natcher Conference Center, Building 45, Balcony B Auditorium. To insure adequate space, we ask people who plan to attend to RSVP here.

The NLM History of Medicine Lecture Series promotes awareness and use of NLM historical collections for research, education, and public service in biomedicine, the social sciences, and the humanities. The series also supports the commitment of the NLM to recognize the diversity of its collections—which span ten centuries, encompass a range of digital and physical formats, and originate from nearly every part of the globe—and to appreciate the individuals of various disciplines who value these collections and use them advance their research, teaching, and learning.

Additional events in the 2018 Lecture Series include:

  • A Conversation about Graphic Medicine, a special program in conjunction with Graphic Medicine: Ill-Conceived and Well Drawn, a new NLM special display, traveling banner exhibition, and online exhibition launching soon
  • Trevor Owens, Head of Digital Content Management, Library of Congress, who will speak on Scientists’ Hard Drives, Databases, and Blogs: Preservation Intent and Source Criticism in the Digital History of Science, Technology and Medicine
  • Heidi Morefield, MSc, 2017 NLM Michael E. DeBakey Fellow in the History of Medicine, Doctoral student, Department of the History of Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, who will offer the 2nd Annual Michael E. DeBakey Lecture in the History of Medicine, on the subject of Transplanting Technology: Dr. Michael DeBakey and Cold War Technology Transfer
  • David S. Jones, MD, PhD, A. Bernard Ackerman Professor of the Culture of Medicine, Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine, Harvard University, who will offer the 10th Annual James H. Cassedy Memorial Lecture in the History of Medicine, on the subject of Making the Case for History in Medical Education

All NLM History of Medicine Lectures are free, open to the public, live-streamed globally, and subsequently archived, by NIH VideoCasting. This videocasting and archiving is made possible through a generous gift to the NLM from the Michael E. DeBakey Medical Foundation. The NLM is authorized to accept donations in support of its mission.

Interviews with the speakers in the History of Medicine Lecture Series are published in Circulating Now, the blog of the NLM History of Medicine Division. Explore interviews with past lecturers on the blog and stay informed about the Lecture Series on Twitter at #NLMHistTalk.

For more information Click Here


Portrait Unveiled of Former NLM Director Lindberg

Posted by NLM in Focus

On February 10, the National Library of Medicine was the scene of a special unveiling ceremony for a portrait of former NLM Director Dr. Donald Lindberg and his wife, Mary. Dr. Lindberg retired in 2015 after over 30 years of service as NLM Director. During his tenure, the Lindbergs were a much-admired team, always closely involved with the people and activities of the Library.

The painting was created by Virginia artist Bradley Stevens, one of America’s leading realist painters and a noted portraitist. Commissioned and sponsored by the Friends of the NLM, this beautiful new work will hang in a prominent location at NLM.

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Dr. and Mrs. Lindberg pose next to their official portrait during the unveiling ceremonies at the National Library of Medicine.

FNLM Update on the Native Voices Exhibition

Posted by NLM in Focus

The Native Voices exhibition in the NLM Rotunda closed July 17, 2015 but you can still visit it…

  • Online:
    Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness
    The Native Voices website includes all of the exhibition’s video interviews, historical timeline content, and images of some objects and artifacts formerly on display. In addition, you can download all of the exhibition’s video content, the timeline, and selected images from either the iTunes or Android app stores.
  • At an ALA Tour location near you:
    Native Voices is now available as a traveling exhibition on the ALA 2016-2020 tour, which we invite you to visit when it is in your vicinity. For ALA host locations, see The detailed tour schedule can be downloaded here. For further information contact the ALA Public Programs Office, email:, phone: 1-800-545-2433, ext. 5045.
  • At the National Library of Medicine main building in Bethesda, MD
    Or, if you’re planning to be in the Washington, DC area, come see the Healing Totem Pole, installed outside the main entrance to the National Library of Medicine as part of the original Native Voices exhibition. The display includes the pole and two carved benches, with interpretive signage, and is adjacent to NLM’s healing plant garden. It is open to NIH visitors during daylight hours. Also, the traveling version of Native Voices is on display in the NLM Rotunda in the NLM main building on the NIH campus, known as Building 38. The unit on display has six banners and six iPads, from which visitors can view the entire Native Voices video content and extensive other material that supplements the banners. The NLM rotunda is open Monday through Friday 8:30am to 5:00pm, except for Federal holidays. Questions or comments for NLM may be directed to

News Archives

Lindberg’s predictions for the future of medical information became reality

Lindberg predicted a time when “the book or journal on the shelf will become increasingly too remote for immediate patient-care decisions,” and the computers will become increasingly useful; when “medical informatics will emerge as a formal research field and academic discipline;” and when progress in “cancer research and molecular biology will be to the average citizen not an idle curiosity or newspaper headline, but a matter of immediate personal concern.”

“I hope you saw how true and prescient his observations were,” noted NIH Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD. “Don created programs that transformed our approach to information.”

“Your influence has been profound,” said Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “The kind of capabilities you put at our fingertips made what we do possible.” Drs. Vivian Pinn, Harold Varmus, John Gallin and Roger Glass were the other NIH leaders who spoke of their collaborations with Lindberg.

Read More In This Article…

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Dr. Lindberg speaks at the March 30 NIH farewell tribute. Photo by Bill Branson.

William G. Harless, President & CEO of Interactive Drama Inc. and former National Library of Medicine employee and contractor, passed away this past May. Dr. Harless’s contributions to the NLM were many, including the creation of the first voice-activated interactive videodisc patient simulation model in the mid-1980s. As Director of NLM’s Technological Innovations in Medical Education (TIME) Project, he received the 1986 NLM Regents Award for Scholarship and an award in the category of Best Educational Application at the University of Nebraska – both for the development of voice recognition technologies. With his passing, NLM remembers a colleague and a friend.

Bill Harless held a PhD degree in psychology and learning theory. He also had held faculty positions at five major universities and the Union for Experimenting Colleges and Universities, where accredited doctorate degrees are awarded from a multidisciplinary, experientially-based curriculum. He developed the first natural language computer patient simulation model at the University of Illinois School of Medicine in Chicago in the early 1960s. Dr. Harless published over 50 articles on natural language interactive simulation as a learning strategy and was a recognized expert in the field. In 1991, he was awarded a patent for his voice-controlled video simulation model. He was awarded a second patent in 1996 for his dynamic prompting system.

Part of his legacy lives on in the NLM Visitor Center (on the first floor of NIH Building 38A, the Lister Hill Center), where the “Dialogues in Science” kiosk, featuring content and technology he created, allows guests to conduct virtual interviews with leading figures in science and technology, including current NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins, NLM Director Dr. Donald A.B. Lindberg, geneticist Dr. Joshua Lederberg, winner of the 1958 Nobel Prize for his discovery of how bacteria transfer genes, former US Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop and astronaut John Glenn who, following a career in the US Senate, returned to space to participate in experiments aboard the Space Shuttle.

A memorial service for Bill Harless will be held by his family at 7:00 PM, Sunday, June 8, at the Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church, 9601 Cedar Lane, Bethesda, Maryland.

All of us at the NLM join in mourning the loss of such a remarkable scientist, innovative leader, and cherished colleague.

In this 1985 photograph, William G. Harless, PhD, then director of NLM’s TIME Project, interacts with the clinical simulation titled, “The Case of Frank Hall,” through voice-recognition technology. The simulation received an award in the category of Best Educational Application at an awards ceremony at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Since its founding in 1836, the National Library of Medicine has played a pivotal role in translating biomedical research into practice. NLM is the world’s largest medical library, with nearly 22 million items in its collection. A leader in information innovation, it is the developer of electronic information services used by scientists, health professionals and the public around the world.

The Friends of the National Library of Medicine received the Distinguished Publish Service Award from the Medical Library Association on May 16th, at the MLA 2011 Conference. Dr. Donald King, chairman of the FNLM Board of Directors, accepted the award from Ruth Holst, president of MLA. The award recognized FNLM’s contributions to the public through the development of NIH MedlinePlus magazine and through supporting and promoting the National Library of Medicine and its programs. “MedlinePlus magazine provides the gold standard of reliable consumer health information to the public,” Ms. Holst said. In his acceptance speech, Dr. King said that medical libraries can play a crucial role in reducing health disparities among minorities by encouraging minority students to enter healthcare careers. The National Library of Medicine and FNLM provide support for one such effort, Mentoring in Medicine, which you can read about in the Summer 2011 issue of NIH MedlinePlus magazine.

The Board of Regents of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) recently honored Dr. Donald King and the late Paul Rogers for their contributions. The Resolutions of Appreciation detail the illustrious careers of both men and the support they offered the NLM during their careers. Dr. King became the new chairman of the FNLM in February 2009.
Click to view Dr. Donald King
Click to view Paul Rogers

Paul G. Rogers, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Friends of the National Library of Medicine (FNLM), died October 13 while recuperating from surgery for lung cancer. As a Congressman from Florida for 24 years, and in so many endeavors in the years since he retired from Congress in 1979, Mr. Rogers maintained a career-long commitment to public health and biomedical research. As an expression of the priority he felt should be given to health research, the man widely known as “Mr. Health” often said, “Without research, there is no hope!”

Early in his public service career, Congressman Rogers recognized the vital role played by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) as the arm of the National Institutes of Health that collects and organizes scientific research to be accessible to researchers, healthcare practitioners, and the public. Characteristically, when Mr. Rogers recognized that something was important, he took action, called people together, and made good things happen. FNLM is one of the many beneficiaries of his life of service.

The Board of Directors of FNLM joins all of those in the biomedical, science, and public health communities who knew Mr. Rogers and benefited from his leadership and friendship. He was a wonderful, giving, and honorable man. As a board, we express our condolences to his wife and family. We will all miss him a great, great deal.

We include here a link to a statement released by NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. upon the passing of Mr. Rogers, and as additional information, links to obituaries about Mr. Rogers in the Washington Post and The New York Times.

The Board of Directors
Friends of the National Library of Medicine

The Director of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), Dr. Donald A.B. Lindberg, with the help of Dr. Rob Logan, has initiated a weekly podcast of pertinent medical topics related to NIH research programs. The topic last week was a discussion of a new vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) associated with carcinoma of the cervix. Past topics have included a description of Tangier disease, discovered by a former Director of the NIH, Dr. Donald Frederickson, and new research funded by the NIH at Johns Hopkins University related to the role of stem cells in neurological disease.

Link to “Director’s Comments” on

Following the successful completion of the sequence of the Genome by the NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), Celera Genomics, and a consortium of hundreds of investigators in scores of laboratories throughout the world, the NHGRI initiated a new program called HapMap sequencing. An optimum set of 300,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was identified as a base for correlating mutations in these sites with specific disease processes. NCBI maintains the database of all SNP mutations. A recent report indicates that individuals homozygous for the risk allele of a complement factor H (CFH) polymorphism are 7.4 times more likely to get age-related macular degeneration (AMD).