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Archive for the ‘Public Health’ Category

Low Cost Mapping Tools on NLM’s Community Health Maps Blog

Have you ever wanted to be able to use mapping for your outreach needs, but thought that making maps would be too expensive, time-consuming, or just too difficult? The main goal of the National Library of Medicine’s Community Health Maps: Information on Low Cost Mapping Tools for Community-based Organizations blog is facilitating the use of geographic information system (GIS) mapping by providing information about low cost mapping tools, software reviews, best practices, and the experiences of those who have successfully implemented a mapping workflow as part of their work. The blog is moderated by Kurt Menke, a certified GIS professional.

Here are some examples of the kinds of things you can find on the Community Health Maps blog:

  • A short guide for using iForm for field data collection. iForm is an app that can be used on iPads, iPhones and Android devices, and has a free version. Using this app, you can go to different locations, gather data (for example, demographic information about attendance at your program), and view it in tabular or map format.
  • A description of a project using youth in the Philippines to collect data on the needs of their communities. Technology + Youth = Change showed how a dozen donated phones helped 30 young adults survey and map information on access to water, electricity, jobs, and more.
  • A review of a pilot project done by the Seattle Indian Health Board’s Urban Indian Health Institute on noise pollution and health in the urban environment.

NLM and FDA Launch Public Access to Global Unique Device Identification Database

The FDA, in partnership with the National Library of Medicine, has announced that data submitted to FDA’s Global Unique Device Identification Database (GUDID) is now publicly available through a website called AccessGUDID. By using AccessGUDID, anyone can search or download information that device labelers have submitted to the GUDID about their medical devices. Because the UDI system is being phased in over the next several years, labelers are currently submitting data on only the highest risk medical devices, a small subset of marketed devices. But as the system is implemented according to the UDI compliance timeline, the records of all medical devices required to have a UDI will be included.

With the launch of this beta version of AccessGUDID, everyone is encouraged—health care systems, clinicians, patients, researchers, industry and others—to explore its contents, assess its functionality and provide feedback. This feedback will shape future enhancements, including advanced search and web services. To submit feedback, use the Contact Us link at the bottom of the AccessGUDID landing page or the FDA UDI Help Desk.

NLM Announces the Addition of the Michael E. DeBakey Papers to Profiles in Science

Now available from the National Library of Medicine is an extensive selection from the papers of Dr. Michael E. DeBakey on Profiles in Science®, an extensive digital project of the Library that provides online access to archival collections of twentieth-century leaders in science, medicine, and public health. The Michael E. DeBakey Papers Profiles in Science site features correspondence, published articles, travel diaries, interviews, and photographs from the Michael DeBakey Papers held by the National Library of Medicine. Visitors to Profiles in Science can view photos from DeBakey’s childhood and early career, correspondence with surgical colleagues during World War II, and the journal he kept on a trip to Russia to supervise President Boris Yeltsin’s bypass surgery in 1996. An in-depth historical narrative leads to a wide range of primary source materials that provide a window into Dr. DeBakey’s life and major contributions to vascular surgery, medical education, and health care policy. Visitors may also search and browse the collection, consult a brief chronology of DeBakey’s life, a glossary of terms specific to the collection, and a page of further readings.

Michael E. DeBakey (1908–2008) was a legendary American surgeon, educator, and medical statesman. During a career spanning 75 years, his work transformed cardiovascular surgery, raised medical education standards, and informed national health care policy. Born to Lebanese immigrants in Lake Charles, LA, DeBakey was inspired to study medicine by physicians who visited his father’s pharmacy. He earned his MD from Tulane University in 1932 and joined the Tulane faculty after his internship and two years of postgraduate work in Europe. During World War II, he served with the Surgical Consultants to the Army Surgeon General, where he helped develop the first MASH units. DeBakey pioneered dozens of operative procedures such as aneurysm repair, coronary bypass, and endarterectomy, which routinely save thousands of lives each year, and performed some of the first heart transplants. His inventions included the roller pump (a key component of heart-lung machines) as well as artificial hearts and ventricular assist pumps. Beginning in 1948, he was a driving force in building Houston’s Baylor University College of Medicine into a premier medical center, where he trained several generations of top surgeons from all over the world.

NLM Launches Emergency Access Initiative for Healthcare Professionals Responding to Nepal Earthquake

The National Library of Medicine has activated its Emergency Access Initiative (EAI) through May 23, to support healthcare professionals working on the response to the earthquake in Nepal. The EAI is a collaborative partnership between NLM and participating publishers to provide free access to full-text from over 650 biomedical journals and over 4,000 reference books and online databases to healthcare professionals and libraries affected by disasters. It serves as a temporary collection replacement and/or supplement for libraries affected by disasters that need to continue to serve medical staff and affiliated users. It is also intended for medical personnel responding to the specified disaster. EAI is not an open access collection. It is only intended for those affected by the disaster or assisting the affected population.

NLM thanks the numerous participating publishers for their generous support of this initiative: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Chemical Society, American College of Physicians, American Medical Association, American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists, ASM Press, B.C. Decker, BMJ, Cambridge University Press, EBSCOHost, Elsevier, FA Davis, Mary Ann Liebert, Massachusetts Medical Society, McGraw-Hill, Merck Publishing, Oxford University Press, People’s Medical Publishing House, Springer, University of Chicago Press, Wiley and Wolters Kluwer.

Resources on Earthquakes

NLM has several other resources that will be helpful for people working on disaster response:

NLM Project to Improve Malaria Diagnosis Wins HHS Funding

Researchers at the National Library of Medicine are collaborating on a software tool to speed up the diagnosis of malaria. They’ve developed an automated system for detecting and counting parasites in blood films. The goal is to develop a version for smartphones so it can be used in the field. The project, Watch it, Parasite!, is an idea so promising, the US Department of Health and Human Services will provide support from the HHS Innovation Ventures Fund Program to take this early-stage idea to the next level.

The current standard method for malaria diagnosis in the field is light microscopy of blood films. About 170 million blood films are examined every year for malaria, which involves manual counting of parasites. To improve malaria diagnostics, the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications, an R&D division of the National Library of Medicine, in collaboration with NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and Mahidol-Oxford University, is developing a fully-automated system for parasite detection and counting in blood films. While existing drugs make malaria a curable disease, inadequate diagnostics and emerging drug resistance are major barriers to successful mortality reduction. The development of a fast and reliable diagnostic test is therefore one of the most promising ways of fighting malaria, together with better treatment, development of new malaria vaccines, and mosquito control.

Read more about this project by visiting NLM in Focus.

NLM Community Health Maps (CHM) Project: User Needs Survey

The National Library of Medicine needs your help reaching out to current and potential users of low-cost and easy-to-use online mapping tools (GIS). The Community Health Maps (CHM) project identifies and promotes tools that seek to meet the mapping needs of communities and community organizations such as clinics, schools, libraries, health departments, faith-based and community-based groups. These tools can be used to collect and visualize health statistics and local resources, to compare data across locations, and to explore trends. In order to improve CHM and better tailor it for the specific requirements of users, please share this GIS user needs survey!

NLM Launches Two New Traveling Exhibitions!

1880 advertisement for a children's remedy

The National Library of Medicine has launched two new traveling banner exhibitions, Pick Your Poison: Intoxicating Pleasures & Medical Prescriptions and Pictures of Nursing: The Zwerdling Collection. Pick Your Poison explores the factors that have shaped the changing definition of some of our most potent drugs, from acceptable indulgences to bad habits, or vice versa. While some mind-altering drugs have remained socially acceptable throughout the history of America, such as alcohol; others, like heroin and cocaine, are now outlawed because of their toxic, and intoxicating, characteristics. These classifications have shifted over time, influenced by the intentions and societal status of those endorsing each drug’s use, and will continue to change. The exhibition features photographs and images of rare books, ephemera, and historical objects from the collections of the National Library of Medicine. Pick Your Poison is available for booking now. Check the Pick Your Poison traveling exhibition services website for more booking information.

Pictures of Nursing presents a selection of historic postcards from NLM’s recently-acquired Zwerdling postcard collection, an archive of over 2,500 items spanning a century of nursing imagery. Nurses and nursing have been the frequent subjects of postcards. These images are informed by cultural values; ideas about women, men, and work; and by attitudes toward class, race, and national differences. By documenting the relationship of nursing to significant forces in 20th-century life, such as war and disease, these postcards reveal how nursing was seen during those times. The traveling banner exhibition is available for booking now. Visit Pictures of Nursing traveling exhibition services for more information.

NLM Toxicology & Environmental Health Information Update: TOXMAP and TRI Data

Both versions of TOXMAP, classic and beta, now include the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) 2013 National Analysis data, as well as recent cancer and disease mortality data from NCI SEER. This is the first version of the TOXMAP beta with health data, whereas mortality data in TOXMAP classic has been updated. To view national county-level cancer and disease mortality data from 2007-2011 in TOXMAP beta, bring up the US Census & Health Data window and navigate to the Mortality tab. Two sub-tabs list cancer and disease mortality layers that can be overlaid on the map (one at a time).

TOXMAP maps the TRI chemicals reported to the EPA, as required by the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). A complete list of TRI chemicals required to be reported to the EPA can be found on the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program website.

Tox Town Updates the “Town” Neighborhood Scene

The National Library of Medicine’s Tox Town resource now has an updated Town neighborhood with a new photorealistic look. All of the location and chemical information is the same, but the new graphics allow users to better identify with real-life locations. The Town scene is now available in HTML5 so, in addition to computers, it can be accessed on a variety of personal electronic devices, including ipads, ipad minis, and tablets. Regardless of where you live, you will definitely want to visit the updated Town neighborhood and learn about possible environmental health risks in a typical town.

NLM Announces Pill Image Recognition Request for Information (RFI)

As part of its ongoing work to develop an infrastructure and tools for identifying prescription pills, the National Library of Medicine has announced a new Request for Information (RFI). This is NOT a solicitation for proposals, proposal abstracts, or quotations. The purpose of this RFI is to obtain knowledge and information for project planning purposes. The government will not award a contract on the basis of this notice, or otherwise pay for information solicited by it. Proprietary information should be clearly marked. The requested information is for planning and market research purposes only and will not be publicly released. This Request for Information (RFI) is a pilot for a forthcoming Pill Image Recognition Challenge for visually identifying pills. The Challenge has as its main objective the development and discovery of high-quality software that matches images of unknown prescription pills to images in the RxIMAGE database. The pilot will help ensure that the Challenge is successful.

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) Computational Photography Project for Pill Identification (C3PI) is developing infrastructure and tools for identifying prescription pills. The infrastructure includes NLM’s RxIMAGE database of freely available, high quality prescription pill images and associated pill data. One tool is the freely accessible RxIMAGE API (Application Programming Interface) for text-based search and retrieval of images and data from the RxIMAGE database.

NLM now seeks to expand the toolset to include smart phone apps to visually search for and retrieve pill images and data. A person will photograph an unknown prescription pill, possibly under poor lighting conditions, from an angle, or at low resolution. The app will return one or more RxIMAGE images and data that are most likely to match the photographed pill. Respondents to the RFI are asked to submit executable software that matches consumer images – photos of pills taken by cell phone digital cameras – with reference images obtained from images in the RxIMAGE database.

The start date for accepting responses to this RFI is April 6, 2015. The end date for accepting responses to this RFI is May 15, 2015. For full information about the RFI, visit the NLM News & Events and NLM Pill Image Recognition Pilot (PIR Pilot) websites.